Situated on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the Bolivian tourist town of Copacabana has drawn pilgrims for centuries. Characterised by its quaint, colourful buildings, trout fishing and, above all, the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana (below), this town of 6,000 inhabitants is famous for its religious and traditional celebrations.
The Basilica – which had been heavily plundered during the Latin American Wars of Independence – remains an important shrine annually for thousands of visitors from across Bolivia and Southern Peru.
Before the Spanish arrived in 1534, however, Copacabana had been an important Inca outpost, offering access to an ancient shrine and oracle on the Island of Titicaca sacred to the Aymara people centuries earlier.
As a result, Copacabana remains in intriguing mixture of traditions, a Catholic town with an indigenous edge to its culture. Since the Great Indigenous Uprising of 1781, the town has been at the centre of spirited indigenous celebrations, held every February 2 and August 6, that have hitherto refused to die out.