Urbanization of Titicaca, Copacabana
Travelers all over the world realized that once authentic places changed their appearance and some also blamed the Lonely Planet for it. Some individuals call it the „Lonely Liar“. Well its easy to blame The Lonely Planet for changing the planet. But its also the people who buy it and follow the same routes that the authors did. So places convert into mainstream touristic destinations. There are thousands of examples all over the world. Here is an example that I documented on two different trips in Bolivia. The rapid urbanization due to the growing tourism industry reshaped the whole area in a vast pace and unrecoverable form. Tourism and urbanization are for sure not the only reasons for the environmental problems people face there, but they are
part of the problem as you can see in the following article (http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com).
Photo 1: Copacabana in Bolivia (Lake Titicaca) in 2005
Photo 2: Copacabana in Bolivia (Lake Titicaca) in 2013 (picture consists of 120 perfectly merged images)
2 Personal travel experience in Bolivia
Traveling the first time in Bolivia and having the very annoying and infamous „Bolivian water disease“ after being forced to stay some nights awake without sleep while traveling by bus.
Animals, people falling on me at nighttime, one guy extremely starring all
night long without sleeping in my face, as well as vomiting, pooing and snoring
passengers contributed all to an experience, which I will never forget
and prevented me of getting some rest traveling with the overland bus.
On the way to Copacabana (in Bolivia..) we met an Austrian who recommend
us to stay at a as he described it a cool and cheap hostel for 20
cents per night. We just said: *** it we are going bag packing champagne
for 5 days and take the hotel (the red building in the middle of the
photo 5) for 50 Cents as we have heard. Well we paid 2,5 dollars
per night. It was all a question of bargaining. Staying on the top
level, which was not finished being built, it took us quite some
time to climb up the stairs. We needed about 3 breaks and roughly 20
minutes to go up. We also just had 3 days of traveling by bus behind
us. Finally arriving at the accommodation the illness kicked in and we
had to redo a painful procedure for the whole night over and over. This
will be described in the following paragraph…
my personal experience with the Bolivian water disease looked like this: Getting out of
bed, spraying the toilet in different colors and body fluids, cleaning
the bath, taking an ice cold shower with non closeable windows and the
wind howling into the shower, getting as fast as you could in your old cloth, that
we already had worn on the the bus and trying to get warm. After 15-20
minutes we were forced to redo the same procedure again. This wonderful
experience took us the whole night and we finally decided to buy
vitamins, Coca Cola and sodium snacks the next
day. We agreed upon throwing a coin who had to go down the next day.. I
WON!! What a luck!! I just could not imagine going down and up again. It
was a just too incredible horrible imagination. 🙂
Photo 3: Bollywood movie “Dheli Belly”
Photo 4: Sickness
I am all in when it comes to compare India and Bolivia. Travelers name stomach problems and related sickness „Delhi belly“ in India. We just had the Bolivian version which is in it’s effect on the human body very similar. 🙂
In terms of beautiful colors both countries offer wonderful and beautiful
examples. Anyway for me personally they resemble each other in certain
3 The photographic experiment (digital photography vs analog photography)
7 years later I did almost the same shot, but upgraded the game. I took
120 single images of the same view and merged all the photos. As you can
see the quality of course is much better. I had a 7d and merged 120 pictures into one
in 2012. In 2005 I had an old school cheap analog camera and did one shot of the same
situation. So much for my own personal mathematical digital
photographic experiment, which I I gave a try in many occasions.
Photo 5: Single pic 2005, analog camera
Photo 6: 120 in One 2012, 7d canon 70-300mm
As you can clearly see, the popularity of Copacabana in Bolivia increased
dramatically. What are the consequences for the environment or the
Bolivians who do not own a hostel/hotel? Do they benefit from the rising
urbanization? Very much likely the reason for that process is not mouth
to mouth propaganda, it is for sure also the rising quantity of
pictures on web, which are shared, liked, etc.. The more attention those pictures draw, the more people feel attracted by it and are finally down to pay Copacabana a
The Galapagos Islands for example are famous for its vast
resources of beautiful flora and fauna. Of course the islands became
famous before the invention of the internet and social networks. But the
connection to Copacabana in Bolivia is also the appealing character of photos of landscape
Nowadays images can be shared and multiplied without costs and thus gain gain a greater audience.
The increasing influx of mass tourism in various destinations effects human beings as well as the landscape itself. That is
why ecotourism is becoming more and more necessary, because it restricts an
over flux of tourists and the therefore needed for the environment harming touristic infrastructure. Can Bolivia do it? As the article above
mentions it is not only the growth of the tourism industry, but also the pollution of industries and households in El Alto (an area 40
kilometers in distance), which do their part in polluting lake Titicaca. A holistic approach is needed
Hopefully the Bolivian government will be able to stop
the process of pollution of the Lake Titicaca, but my personal opinion
is, that its too late. Land owners are anyway more interested in their
own wealth, than in the environment.
Last time I went there I
was quite shocked by development of the last years. The touristic
infrastructure got huge and even taking common overland buses showed
extreme examples of ignorant touristic gringo attitudes towards Bolivia.
In 2005 I was the only “gringo” on the bus and I felt like doing my own
little adventure, being far from home and discovering the world. In
2012 there was not a single Bolivian on the bus. People complained about
how dirty and poor Bolivia is and that nobody speaks English. I was
quite astonished by the “open minded travelers” and could not believe my ears.
At this point I could pretty much understand a negative attitude towards
any traveling gringo…
Hopefully the Bolivian industry will develop more of their own products and lessen the addiction to imports which is typical for less developed countries. An environment friendly way of production and sustainability in the tourism sector should be the goal which would would turn out as beneficial for everybody in the long term.
Photo 7: Coka Quina, Bolivian Coca Cola
I could not find any article on urbanization on the web. Doing a research in terms of the growing urbanization would be interesting. This article is hopefully rising interests in the topic and should point out my personal experience as well environmental problems which are also a result of the growing mass tourism in the region of Lake Titicaca.