Lake Titicaca and Isla del Sol, Bolivia

Next stop Isla del Sol off Lake Titicaca. Isla del Sol is the spiritual centre of the Andean world, revered as the place where the Sun and the Moon were created and the Inca dynasty was born.  It seemed fitting to buy a bottle of Campos de Solana Reserva 2006 Malbec/Cabernet Sauvignon; a Bolivian wine, before leaving La Paz.

The trek to Isla del Sol began with a three hour hour bus ride. I looked out the window to the terrain and saw pine trees, piles of wood, endless rocks, llamas grazing, groups of sheep. I began to see the immense, sapphire-blue Lake Titicaca; the largest lake in South America.  The western part of the lake is southern Peru, the eastern side is Bolivia. At one point everyone was told to get off the bus as a boat would take us across to save another hour drive on the bus. The man in charge asked if we had our passports. We weren’t told to bring them so four of us did not. He said we’d have to stay on the boat, while it was put on a barge to cross and we would have to pay a fee. I argued that I paid $135 for a visa in Los Angeles. He wanted $50 U.S. but we settled on ten Bolivian dollars. It turned out to be a lie and a way for him to make some extra cash off non suspecting foreigners. ¡Benvenidos a Bolivia! Welcome to Bolvia. Each person he took money from was volunteering their services so the boomerang of karma will be going back his way shortly.

We arrived to Copacabana, a quaint town on the Bolivian edge of Lake Titicaca. The Aymara word for cota cawuaña means: to overlook the lake.The Spanish transformed the word to Copacabana. Copacabana has a bit of a beach feeling with all the boating and fishing. We had fresh trout for lunch then visited The Church of Copacabana. Then the 1.5 hour boat ride to Isla del Sol. I’m not a boating girl. I don’t like to even bob because I get sick sea so easily.

The Sun figures prominently as the greatest of all the gods of the Incan people. This island was a part of the mythical capital of Incan heritage. It was a link in the chain of the supernatural, just as Macchu Picchu in Peru.

You have to give yourself a liberal dosing of sunscreen while crossing to the island and while there. Because of the high altitude you end up burning quite easily.

The arrival to the island with its raw beauty made the boat ride seem like a distant dream. There are no cars on Isla del Sol or any paved roads. Just indigenous people with their llamas, burros, sheep. There is a tranquility there that made the bus, boat and walk up the stairs worth every step of the sojourn. Enjoying the bottle of Bolivian Campos de Solana was the perfect way to watch the setting sun.

The La Puerta Del Sol hotel is at the top of the island. I hired a young boy to carry my backpack up the path. I simply couldn’t lift all the weight in the pack because of my rib injury. Here are photos of the view from the top. The magnificent views make up for dealing with the hombre at the crossing and the boat ride.

On the way back at the Estrecho de Tikina I was able to photograph the baby vicuña. This creature is so soft and smooth that it’s like petting something 100% softer than a cuddly American Shorthair cat. I wanted to bite his head.

Extremely rare; they have been exploited because of their soft coat which is said to make the best wool in the world.  Even though they have legal protection they are still being poached from the few reserves where they still survive. The vicuña’s wool is almost as fine as silk which unfortunately is what caused the poaching. Their soft and fuzzy hides make them sought after. This reduced the vicuña’s numbers from two million to 10,000 by the middle of this century.

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