Copacabana, Bolivia (SLCC) - Wild Airport on Lake Titicaca

This is one of my newly discovered favorite airports in IF, and since nobody has mentioned it on the forums yet, I thought it deserves a thread. The airport itself is not 3D (yet), but the surroundings sure are.

Copacabana is a town located on a peninsula in the middle of Lake Titicaca, on the border between Bolivia and Peru in the middle of the Andes. Lake Titicaca is the highest lake in the world, with a surface elevation of >12,000 feet. SLLP and SPIL are the closest major airports.

The airport is small and is wedged between mountains on three sides, so there is essentially only one way in and out (a bit like the more notorious Tenzing-Hillary Airport in the Himalayas). The runway is 6,562 feet, so you need a GA aircraft or a C130/C17. In real life the airport can only accommodate up to 19-seat planes, so even Dash 8s and CRJs are out.

Copacabana is in a weird position, in that it is separated from the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca by a strait, so the only ways in and out are by air, by ferry, or by land through Peru. The Bolivian government actually invested some money several years ago to build up the airport and attract domestic air service to bring tourists in and out, but it didn’t work, and most people continue to use the ferry to get to the rest of Bolivia.

I recommend flying in from outside the plateau, especially from the north or east, as you will be shocked at how quickly the sprawling low flat jungle of the Amazon basin turns into the towering Andes mountains. Flying in from Venezuela across Brazil, I saw nothing but flat jungle for hours before the mountains popped out of nowhere. Keep in mind that minimum altitudes around the lake are as high as FL220.

There is no standard instrument procedure or precision approach here. The easiest arrival method is to approach from the north and make left traffic over the lake to RWY 08. RWY 24 is behind a steep hill so you can’t land in that direction (unless maybe if you’re in a military cargo plane that can handle a high-angle approach). There is also a group of >15,000 foot mountains to the southwest that will get in the way if you try to make right traffic or approach from the south. It’s probably doable under VFR conditions, but you will want to get a terrain map and understand the geography before approaching from this angle.

My suggested GPS descent path is ASODA to DOBNI at 15,800, which brings you over the lake right along the border between Bolivia and Peru. You’ll want to then continue at a heading of 190 toward the west side of the lake, turn base to 150, then turn final for 08. Airfield elevation is 12,591 ft. Make sure to come in slowly since your GS will be much higher than your IAS at this altitude, and a go-around may send crashing into a hillside.

I landed in a CL35, and the short taxi to the apron felt tight even in this plane.


funny lake name lol

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I’m a kid of the 90s so I fondly remember the “Lake Titicaca” song from Animaniacs.

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