Lake Titicaca… what did I know? Not really a lot besides being the highest navigable water body on this planet. What I discovered exceeded my expectations by far and I felt immediately in love with the deep blue. Spontaneously I decided to take a vacation from my travels. Read here why!
Copacabana – Where to Stay
When arriving in Copacabana I first was very sceptical towards the town for its dubious reputation as tourist trap and high criminality rate. This is at least what I heard but was convinced differently when discovering “La Cupula“ and “Las Olas”, two absolutely “zen places” at the far end of the town. Situated high up on a hill with an absolutely stunning view over the bay of the town with its crystal white clouds at the horizon, the insanely deep blue coloured water and little boats anchored at the shore – I felt in love at first sight!
At first, I just wanted to stay for a night and continue my trip to the isla del sol but when visiting the charming bungalow of “La Cupula” with its very own chimney I just could not leave the place. It felt like the place put a spell on me and I was literally paralysed. Martin, the owner of the two extraordinary accommodations was incredibly forthcoming and he kindly provided me a great deal making it impossible to say no. I guess the road blockage between LaPaz and Copacabana was another reason for my luck while a few tourists canceled their reservations.
Martin is true artist and put all his love and enthusiasm into his life project, making the bungalows not just an accommodation but an art. An art which is not only beautiful to look at but also provides an unbelievable tranquilo atmosphere… The first three days I did nothing else but laying in my hammock, reading books, enjoying the sun on my face and drinking “one or two” glasses of local wine. I guess, I really needed a break from my travels and welcomed the “dolce far niente”!
Where to Eat
The restaurant of La Cupula served in addition to my pleasant stay incredibly delicious food, contributing to my laziness of not getting really active. I did not even explore the town but instead observed the “happening” from far above.
What to Do
At the third day, I thought it would be at least a good idea to walk up a close by hill to enjoy the sunset. The hill is also known for its history as an Inca site and many pilgrims are visiting for worshipping.
When I arrived after approx. 30 – 40 minutes the top of the hill I was out of breath, even though I only covered maybe 200 meters of height difference. I did not know if I should blame my lack of fitness or the altitude of approx. 4’000 meters. I decided to blame the later one, lol. However, I was absolutely disappointed by all the rubbish laying around, making it almost impossible to enjoy the scenery which was without any doubt absolutely breathtaking. While locals were urinating a couple of meters besides me, I tried to enjoy the sunset, lol. I just had to hold on my breath for 20 minutes… no big deal! In the background I heard people lightening up firecrackers and observed them later on also lightening candles and popping bottles of champagne… all for asking the “higher power” for prosperity, health and so on. I even discovered a funny looking frog they were worshipping but did not really figure out the meaning of it. However, another interesting experience of local culture.
Isla del Sol
On the fourth day I finally managed to get up at 6.40 am in the morning in order to make my trip to the famous isla del sol which should be according to some travel guides THE highlight of Bolivia. I could not really believe it but thought it would be at least worth a try since I was already in Copacabana, a 2 hours boat ride away.
After breakfast I made my way down to the docks where two official ticket booth’s were selling tickets to the island. On my way another tour provider was approaching me and tried to sell a ticket for 35 Bolivianos. I did not expect another operator besides the two official ones and told the lady to first compare the prices between her and the officials (they should have been also 30 – 35 Bolivianos – Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna). When she saw me walking away I only heard her shouting: Bueno, 25 Bolivianos. “OK”, Deal!
While thinking I made a great deal, I only found out later that the official price at the other two providers were exactly the same price! LOL!
I could not believe that she was cheating me big times… Well, well… Luckily, I did not lose any money after all but had a boat which was half crowded compared to the “official” ones. I am certainly not talking about safety on board either… I only found 2 life jackets on the rooftop which were in miserable conditions and not sure if they would have helped all 20-25 people on board.
I prayed to the frog that hopefully nothing would happen, lol.
When finally arriving at the isla del sol I was absolutely impressed and euphoric of this unexpected beauty of the island. I also realised why they called it isla del sol… the sun was merciless burning down and luckily I had a 50 sun blocker with me, protecting me from the intense climate.
In the nearby Yumani village, the Escalera del Inca a beautiful staircase from the Inca times were leading to a spring formerly believed to prolong youth. Because of my previous food poisoning experiences I believed it rather would shorten my youth and happily rejected. However, the scenery was unbelievable beautiful… while the staircases were decorated at both sides with beautiful flowers, small water streams were running down in a peaceful manner.
Already the first meters were growing my appetite to explore more. Unfortunately, it was only possible to explore the South of the Island since another conflict was making it impossible to reach the North. However, since my time was only limited I enjoyed every single minute of the scenery of the South with its rough, rocky landscape held in a beautiful yellow colour.
On my way, I met a lot of locals with their donkeys carrying straw and other goods high up to their villages. Unfortunately, I also met a couple of very aggressive dogs trying to defend their territories while walking through the narrow paths of an upcoming village. I first backed up and was looking for a couple of stones which I could use in emergency situations. While coming back I tried not to make any noise and could fortunately escape the monsters. Usually I really like dogs but since Bolivia I earned a lot of respect for those animals who are usually just trying to protect their territories. However, they particularly also like to attack motorbikers and I always try to escape with accelerating which luckily always worked until so far.
While enjoying the landscape and the scenery I discovered the perfect place for making a break. A restaurant located at a cliff at the mountain village, revealing a breathtaking view over the nearby small islands and the amazing lake Titicaca. After enjoying one of the local specialities – trout with garlic – and a cerveza I had to make my way back to Copacabana.
An amazing day ended with a beautiful sunset and I was grateful to have had the opportunity to visit one of the most beautiful places on earth.
Tomorrow I was about to conquer my second border crossing challenge into Peru. Fingers crossed!