Note: This post is from my travel in June, 2013
Copacabana is the main Bolivian town on the shore of Lake Titicaca. It’s a quite a touristic town, very small but filled with restaurants, small shops and backpackers. Copacabana has a cool subtropical highland climate which I was very happy about, since I came from the cold mountains in Bolivia and had freezed my ass of for weeks. It was so sweet to feel the warming sun and sit without jacket there :)
I traveled during early morning and arrived in Copacabana by bus and a small ferry boat, took about 4-5 hours. I went down to the harbour to get the tickets for the first boat to cross over to Isla del Sol which leaves at 8. I costed 25 bolivianos. Then I hunted down a nice place to where to eat breakfast. :)
Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) is the largest island in Lake Titicaca. It’s an ancient holy site of the Inca, mostly known because the Incas believed that the God of the Sun was born here. Inca legend says that Viracocha, the bearded God who created the universe, emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca and created the sun at this location.
On the boat over I started talking to a girl from Spain, Maider and a man from England, Anthony, and since we were all three traveling alone, we joined forces :) We decided to walk south to north, and take back the boat from the other side the next day.
The boat over to Copacabana was easy, it took about 1,5 hours, but when we arrived.. buff! Apparently all the houses and the society is on top of the island, there’s nothing by the lake except for the bridge. And there are quite stiff inca-steps to walk up with all your backpack at altitude! It’s recommended to leave your backpack in your hostel in Copacabana, but I just went straight from La Paz, so I thought… How hard can it be? Haha. Well… hard!
The place we stayed in Yumani during that night costed like 15 bolivians or something, and it was with breakfast included. But it was freezing inside and there was not a how shower (anywhere on the island, almost).
We went out for a walk around to see some of the archeological sites in the area. There are over 80 ruins on the island. Most of these date to the Inca period circa the 15th century AD. We saw a few that were close by and then we climbed up to the highest top of the island to see the sunset. It was absolutely fantastic! All the people from around gathered there to watch it together.
We also encountered two llamas having some fun and enjoying themselves, for a veery long time. I took plenty of photos, I just found the situation so funny, and they made this particularly funny sounds… Yes, I have it on video also… Haha. And it was a fantaastic location! :)
We then wen’t around ”in town” to find a place where we could eat dinner.The life in the island is tranquil, there is no noise, no motorized traffic and no rubbish on the streets, only animals and nature.
After the sunset it got really dark, and there were no lights on the streets! We survived not falling thanks to our head torches. We found a great little house who served dinner to us, we were the only guests, and I was so happy about having candle lights – its so cozy and totally missing from every other restaurant in south america, haha. The dinner was about 35 bolivianos and totally worth it. Then we went back to our cold beds to catch the sunrise early.
We had breakfast outside our home to a view over the Lake Titicaca. Beautiful.
Geographically the terrain is harsh, it’s rocky and not so much growth, but it’s has beautiful views from wherever you are since you are above on a hill.
There are about 800 families on the whole island, and their main economic activity is farming, fishing and some tourism. Archaeologists have discovered evidence that people lived on the island as far back as the third millennium before christ!
Wherever you go on the island, you find a new archeological site. And there is no one else but you there. It’s free to walk and sit wherever you want. I walked around imagining how it was like over a thousands years ago.
Actually, at the most famous place on the island, there were a couple of ”guides” there, one was about 6 years old and the other about 10. They explained the story about the mythology and the archeology and you can give them a small tip to show our appreciation. Actually, without them, we would not have seen what it was that was ”so famous” about that.. haha.
We watched the The Rock of the Puma, or Titi Kharka, after which the lake is named, which is a large formation of a rock that looks like a Puma (sort of… but the guide showed us ;)
Then there was a Inca table that was used for human sacrifices..
And the most important, the Footsteps of the Sun – there are like some ”supernatural” marks in a rock, where it is said that it was there the God of the Sun took his first steps.
Well. Maybe that wasn’t to much to brag about, the archeological sites and the scenery around is much nicer! :)
While getting closer to the north of the island, I noticed there’s like a special harmony there, you can feel it all over your body. I felt so good there, good vibrations, I don’t know what it was…. but it was something special about this place. I could have easily spent a week or so there just doing nothing, just feeling and breathing and being happy.
There are many agricultural terraces and llamas, donkeys, and then the island is surrounded with all this water, sometimes there are rocks, sometimes there’s beach, and on the other side of the water you can catch the glimps of the big snowy mountain. There are so many contrasts! Then here in the north of the island, we also got on lower grounds and it was getting hotter, and there was a beach and some people from the villages around :)
When we arrived at Cha’llapampa, the town from where the boat leaves in the northern end of the island, we still had some time before the boat left back to Copacabana. We went to the Museo de Oro which shows different treasures that have been discovered underwater around the island. Then we bought some snacks and food.
During our walk around the island we had to pay some small fees because we were trespassing from the south to the norht of the island or something like that, also the museum was like 10 bs. But other than that, just beautiful silence and harmony.
We laughed at one guy who had got there with his big suitcase with wheels. Really not the best place where to bring that! Not at all in Bolivia I would say…. ;)
We took the boat back (and they let me steer a while:) and once back in Copacabana we enjoyed ourselves in the last hours of sun, just sitting outside a bar/restaurant, before splitting to different places.We all had buses leaving at 18, I was on my way to Cusco in Peru again, Anthony to Arequipa in Peru and Maider to La Paz in Bolivia. I’m so glad I found these two, had such a nice time with them.
I went with Huancayo tours from Copacabana to Cusco, a good company with nice buses and first class. :)
On the bus I met a guy named Sebastian who soon had been traveling for a year around the world and had visited like 55 countries!!…. And I will only visit like 6 countries in a year.. haha. He must have had a crazy schedule!
Well… That was that!
Don’t miss Isla del Sol if you are going between Bolivia and Peru!! :)