Copacabana and Isla Del Sol: Bolivian Titicaca

Posted on May 18, 2011

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My short trip down the coast to the Bolivian side of the lake did not work out as planned, as my 7.30am bus proved non-existent (an early initiation into the ways of Bolivian bus travel) and I was forced to spend the day drinking cheap beer with an Argentine.

Nevertheless, I eventually made it, and after co-opting a Japanese girl into sharing a room (for financial reasons, you understand) found a decent hostel. Copacabana is smaller than Puno but has a similar vibe, and is very tourist-friendly. Again, the staple dish is trucha, and after washing that down with a frozen (better than warm I guess) beer, I hit the sack in preparation for my trip to Isla Del Sol, the birthplace of the Inca mythology, the next day.

The boat out to the island took approximately 1.5 hours, with predicably good views of the lake and its islands. It was a real gringo-fest, in truth, with dozens of boats descending on the remote island. Luckily, this did not last long, as most were day-trippers returning in the late afternoon. Once they had departed, the island was as peaceful as I have known anywhere to be, with the only sounds that of donkeys and birds. Great lake views were to be had from my simple hostel, and once the sun had set I had to use a flashlight to find myself the obligatory trucha dinner.

I was up early the next morning for breakfast, having foolishly resolved to hike the length of the island, from Yumani in the south to Challapampa in the north. Along the ridgeway, this was supposed to take four hours, and I had deluded myself as to its easiness following my surprising exploits on the Inca Trail. In the event, the blazing sun and altitude meant I swiftly tired, but I was lucky enough to run into a local and use my improving Spanish to persuade him to show my a (sometimes quite hairy) shortcut.

Having arrived at Challapampa ahead of schedule, then, and beaten the daytrippers on their boats, I completed a peaceful hike up to some inca ruins on a peak overlooking the lake. They were certainly interesting and well-preserved, but after Peru my standards for such settlements are perhaps a little higher! I returned on the boat to Copacabana just in time to miss the majority of the daytrippers as the daily touristification of the island began.

I passed the evening in Copacabana with a soup starter in one restaurant followed by dinner in another (I am sick of trucha by this point). It did not take much for a street tout to convince me to enter a dimly-lit bar (I thought there were none in town) for a free drink, where I met a Basque guy who spoke only French and Spanish, and who I would later run into again in Sucre, giving me a chance to drunkenly put my new linguistic prowess to the test.

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Posted in: Experience, Travel