Isla del Sol and Copacabana
Mar 18, 2013
|At 5:30am on March 14th, a 10 year old boy came and got us from our hostel to take us to the bus we’d booked a few days before. Thankfully he was not the driver, just the escort to the bus as well as the baggage handler. We made sure to give him a nice tip :)
The trip to Copacabana was short, only a few hours from La Paz, and once again the views were well worth the price of the ticket. Our bus had to cross a part of Lake Titicaca by ferry, and we were a little nervous for our packs which were underneath, but it made it across with no problems and pretty soon we were in Copacabana (though not for long). Within an hour we were on a boat heading to Isla del Sol, an island near the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. The boat was small, crowded and slow but after about an hour we arrived on the island of the sun. We hadn’t booked a hostel ahead of time but we’d received a few recommendations for a place named Punta del Sol. The name should have been a giveaway that we were in for a hike (punta means point or top). It took us 20+ minutes of straight uphill staircase with all of our bags to reach our hostel. To say that the view from the top took our breath away would be a bit of a fib, since we were already struggling for air due to the high altitude climb with all of our belongings, but the view really was incredible. The window from our room looked down on the opposite side of the island, facing west for a perfect sunset view.
The first night we didn’t do much. We took advantage of the hot shower, bundled up since it was a little colder than La Paz and headed over to a restaurant we’d seen signs for on the way up. It wasn’t up or down a hill, so that was a big selling feature. It was also advertised as an organic vegetarian pizzeria, so we figured why not? Passing through a forest of eucalyptus trees we weren’t entirely sure we were going the right direction, but sure enough after a few minutes we came upon what most Canadians would call a small little cottage. Inside was 5 tables, 5 candles and a very friendly gourmet chef. Outside were eight hungry travelers and a picnic table. Each meal was prepared fresh so the wait time for food was a little over an hour, but that didn’t bother us as we got to enjoy the view of the sun setting on the Lake and a few litres of beer. An hour and a half late and the food was well worth the wait. We went back to the hostel happy and excited for the next day’s hike.
Timing isn’t everything, but it’s really important when you’re trying to catch a boat. We got some bad information and instead of arriving 20 minutes early we were 10 minutes late. The last boat leaving from the South side to the North side of the island leaves at 10am and we just missed it. The plan was (and is for a lot of tourists) to take the boat to the North side and make the hike back South. It was a little disappointing, but we didn’t let that ruin our day. We hiked back up the island, on the way making a few canine friends, grabbed some extra snacks and set out for the North side on foot.
The walk across the island is long and beautiful. You’re up on a ridge the entire time, so there isn’t as much up and down as other parts of the island and you have a stellar view of both shores. We passed through a few small villages and paid the toll to walk the trail. By the time we reached the north side we were exhausted and the weather was starting to turn. The walk back wasn’t quite as enjoyable, but it was beautiful all the same. We took some time to stretch our sore muscles and then it was back to our favourite restaurant for a bottle of wine and a two hour wait for dinner. When it came, it was delicious.
The next morning it was off to Copacabana for three nights of R and R at an Ecolodge along the shore just 15 minutes from town. We were pleasantly surprised when we arrived and found we’d rented an entire cabana, complete with kitchen, guest bedroom and a small front yard with a great view of the lake.
We spent the next three days enjoying our privacy, exploring the city and celebrating St. Patricks day (not many Irish in Bolivia). It was a 15 minute walk to get to town so 4 to 6 times a day, an hour to an hour and a half was spent walking the shore of Lake Titicaca. It was much more beautiful than the name suggests. At times it reminded us of lakes we’d seen balk home. Certain parts could have been stretches along the shores in Toronto or Kingston or lakes in Algonquin or Temagami. Unlike back home we would pass a number of campers set up in the grassy median of the dirt road leading to and from town or picnickers cooking up dozens of pounds of meat.
This was our last stop in Bolivia. After a 15 minute bus ride and a few tries with the immigration papers we were in Peru, the last new country we’ll see on this trip (we pass back through Chile on the way home). That’s for the next one though. We’re thinking of everyone back home and hope you’re all well.
Lots of love,
Leah and Ken