It’s in places like Titicaca you need to let the every day thoughts go and surrender to the immaculate beauty of the apparently immobile nature.
The higher (navigable) lake in the world is the place where traditions, myth and history are intertwined bringing us back to the beginning of the Inca civilization that started right here, in Isla del Sol. The mystical place par excellence.
The myth tells that the first Inca, Manco Capac, the son of the SUN-God Inti and emperor of the Inca dynasty and of the Cuzco dynasty in Cuzco, was coming from Isla del Sol, Island of the Sun in english.
In its depths hide city, and no one in the island really wants to know what’s down there.
The lake is sacred, that’s why they do not make too many questions about its waters, it is respected for what mythology says to be the place where the Inca civilization began. Isla del Sol is the largest island of the Lake Titicaca, is lays just a short distance from the coast of Copacabana standing above Isla de la Lunam Island of the Moon
The positive and the negative, the man (SUN) and the woman (MOON), the light and the dark, the great and the small.
Two opposites looking each other at 3812 meters above sea level.
It didn’t take me too long to realize that we are no longer in the tourist Copacabana. Here there are no bars or restaurants well furnished with wifi. There are not even paved roads.
In Cha’llapampa, a city in the north of the island, children and women wait for the arrival of tourists to take them to their hostel and show the basic, and very cheap, rooms.
I have not put my backpack on the floor yet that a child asks me if I need a place where to stay.
He only tells me: “15 bolivianos”. I follow him.
At 2 minutes from the pier, on a incredible bay with blue and bright water and fine white sand I have found the place where to sleep for a couple of nights.
My room is right there, overlooking the bay. I accept even before seeing it. I love that place and can’t wait to wake up in the morning breathing that energy coming from the water.
It is low season so there aren’t many tourists in the village, everything is so quiet and silent.
Life here seems to follow the rhythm of the sun. There are no street lights and at night the only lights enlightening my path are those coming from the moon, the star and some lights coming from inside the houses.
The day, although cold, is always heated by the winter sun that adds a touch of fairy tale to this mystic and energetic place where I can savor the beauty of simple and industrious life of Bolivians.
Women perpetual workers seem to be never tired, on several occasions I thought that they are the real engine of Bolivian society.
I can meet the in the very early morning at sunrise and then again at sunset time on their way back home with such a “bolivian attitude”: curves, looking to the ground, follow a slow and tireless walk holding their colorful pockets full of shrubs or grazing.
Unless you want to walk from the north to the south of the island, apart the splendid Incan ruins, at about 40 minutes walk from the town center, there isn’t that much to in in Isla del Sol.
My main activities revolved around relaxing on the beach relaxing on the beach, reading book in the marvelous beach, walking down the dirt roads up to the mountain, and learning to give precedence to herds of cows, sheep and pigs.
I’ve spent the last hours of the first afternoon just lying on the beach, not far from the shoreline, reading a book and looking at the flow of people living their daily life and, I, imagining, how the are and what living there could mean to them.
In this same land I am right now a civilization, the biggest of South America, was born, and this feeling made of my stay there a particularly important and intense one. I felt the same emotions when I saw for the first time the Imperial Fora in Rome, the Acropolis in Athens, the Valley of temples in Sicily or Angkor Wat in Cambodia.
I feel at the center of the World. I was actually in the place also called The navel of the world.
Despite the growing tourism time it seems to stand still. Here for the first time I saw little girls in traditional clothes.
There are no cars, or transport of any kind unless boats and, I saw, a bicycle (Yes, one!).
What will always reming me of bolivians will always be probably their walk, bent and slowly they get up the mountains in the company of the silence broken by the only sound made by the wind.
They work until sun goes down, when the island captures the colors that make it different, one more time.
Isla del Sol turns to be pink, gently greets the sun, whose god that plays a vital role in mythology as the creator and protector of the Incas and so of that land.
While the sun slowly disappears behind the mountains of the island, one after the other one, the flocks return to the folds.
Isla del Sol invites to meditation, tranquility, in any part of the island you are. But it is only when I climbed up the mountain and arrived at Inca ruins, overlooking the sea that, if alone and in silence, I think everybody can feel in such an important and positive place, one of those where it’s nice to spend time. Or rather, it’s nice to take time to think and take a break from the fast and chaotic world we come from.
Should you do just a day tour to Isla del Sol or stay the night?
It is really worth to stay at least one night on the island rather than take the boat in the morning at 8:30 and return, also by boat, at 13.00, whereas it takes at least one hour to arrive.
Only stopping for a while you can savor the beauty and the energy of what is considered the center of mystical and religious Inca empire.
A few days here allows you to walk to the ruins with ease, enjoying the beauty of the place without getting lost in the mad rush to get there and back, stay in the sun in one of the beautiful bays, or walking from north to south along the island following one of the two walk paths, along the coast or the one on the top of the mountain. The total journey takes 4 hours one way.
How to get to Isla del Sol
To get to Isla del Sol there are two boats from Copacabana every day (at 8.30 and 13.30). It costs 20 bolivianos. The return, if you have not purchased it before, if bought in the island will costs 25 otherwise if bought in Copacabana remains 20 bolivianos.
To go to Peru (Puno and Cuzco) there are daily buses from Copacabana.
The buses to Puno leave at 9:30, 13:30 or in the afternoon. In low season it is not necessary to buy the tickets in advance, during the high season one day in advance should be enough.
Many agencies sell the same buses that follow the same tour, it’s very easy to find a seat on a bus. The trip to Perù will take about 3/4 hours.
Average costs (in 2012)
Accommodation: 15 bolivianos per person (30 bolivianos for the whole room). Bathroom outside and cold water.
Food: Isla del sol is famous for its trout. Menu starting from 20 bolivianos (less than 3 euro)
Inka ruins fee entry: 10 bolivianos
Where to stay in Isla del Sol
I have noticed prices increased since 2012, it means that also numbers of tourists did. With it also the quality of hotels got much better than the times I was there. There is also wifi in the hotels that today seems to be pretty common (Bolivia in 2012 was one of the countries with the worse wi-fi in the part of the world I have traveled to).
If you want to book in advance your stay these are he options recommend to me by a friend that was there short time ago.
[su_tab title=”Budget”] Willka Kuti Hostal – Located in the north part of the island right on the beach, double private rooms with common bathroom starting from €19.
Hostal del Sol – The location is great, right on the ridge, from here you can see both side of the island. Probably from here you can get the best sunrise ever! Double rooms starting from €29.[/su_tab]
[su_tab title=”Eco-Lodge”] Eco Lodge La Estancia – Beautiful and relaxing where to stay to enjoy the energy of the lake. Beautiful location, really cute rooms, super friendly staff. Double rooms starting from $180.[/su_tab] [/su_tabs]
This trip was part of my 3 years RTW and was made in 2012
I spent a month in Bolivia in 2012, probably many things have changed. If you were recently in Bolivia and went to isla del sol, leave a comment and tell us how today is this place and if it still, 4 years later, such a virgin and enchanted![/su_note]