“Sacred, revered, immense, deep blue, home to indigenous communities, Titicaca does not fail to impress – not even a bit”
I crossed over from Puno, a lake-side town on the Peruvian part of the lake, into Copacabana, a multi-faceted town on the Bolivian side. Accessible from a short ride on one of the many motor-boats that ply from Copacabana is the island Isla del Sol. Both ends of the island are well connected by boats from Copacabana.
With no vehicles on this tiny little island, life slows down considerably relative to the mainland, and it slows down in style. Overlooking the azure waters of the lake, and the icy peaks of the Cordillera Real, the landscape here is vast and beautiful. Abundance of eucalyptus trees fills the air with soothing freshness – a perfect recipe for calming a jaded traveler’s tired body and soul. There are 3 communities on the island: Challapampa at the northern end, Yumani to the south, and Challa in the middle. Yumani is set on the hillier side of the island, boasts of many home stays, whereas Challa and Challapampa are beach side villages with minimal tourist infrastructure, but offer great views of the cordillera.
The walk across the island offers some great views, and an insight into the local way of living. You would pay a little money to enter the northern or the southern part of the island – close to 15 Bolivianos. There are two ways to walk across the island: one which is called Ruta Sagrada and cuts across the higher elevations of the island, and the other through the villages. I took the latter, and highly recommend it. Little children running with their herd of lamas, farmers working with the eucalyptus branches, fishermen navigating the lake – the rural charm of the slow life on the island wins your heart. Occasional banter and talk with the locals made the beautiful walk all the more interesting. Apart from walking at a high altitude of 4,000 m., which leaves you breathless, you could easily end up feeling being somewhere on the Mediterranean or the Aegean coast.
Since the island was sacred to the Incans, you find the obligatory ruins – visit them in Challapampa to whet your appetite for history. The ruins are a 45 min. walk from the village of Challapampa. Take a boat back to Copacabana when you are done with your solitude fix, or carry on to the island of eternal moonshine. The choice could leave you deliberating.