Sightseeing in Bolivia: Isla del Sol - Vikingess Voyages

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Sightseeing in Bolivia: Isla del Sol

After a nice afternoon in Copacabana we got up early to catch the first boat going out to the Isla del Sol at 8:30. We payed 15 Bolivianos each for the ride, and it took us about 3 1/2 hours to reach the north side.
Isla del Sol is actually considered the birthplace of the god of the sun in the Inca mythology (Isla del Sol means the suns island), and it is still thought of as a sacred place for many of the people living there.
The place used to be very rich in gold, but today you'd have to go to the museum in La Paz to see some of the treasures from the island.
Going to Isla del Sol
 When we arrived we were met by a guide who showed us and the rest of the people on the boat (who wanted to join) on a short trip around the north part of the island. We got to see the museum first, and for this we payed 5 Bolivianos. For the guide we payed 10 (plus tip for those who'd like) each.
Some kids selling stuff along the road. They were harsh businessmen though; cause they wanted me to pay them for the photo I took.. :p
The Incas also had a sacrifice table on the island

Our tourist group sitting around the table while the guide is talking. In the background you can see their Sacred Rock.
The labyrinth-ish Chicana.
 The last thing the guide showed us, was Chicana, which used to be an observatory, but today it looks more like a labyrinth or something like that. According to some stories I've heard, the building used to be covered in gold. When the fishermen looked at it from the lake they couldn't see anything because of the reflection of the sun, while the Incas in Chicana on the other hand had a good view of what was going on in the lake.
Other tourist checking out Chicana as well
From Chicana you have a good view of the sea.
 Though me and Raquel originally were supposed to meet up with our friends on the north side of the island we were told by the boat drivers that no boat were going up to the north after the boat we used to get to Isla del Sol from Copacabana in the morning. Therefore we figured out that it would be better for us to walk down to the south side of the island and meet up with the others there.
The walk through the island is really nice, cause you have a great view of Lago Titicaca all the way.
Walking across Isla del Sol
Me and some locals at a control-post along the road going to the village in the south.
 One thing that is kind of irritating though, is that you have to cross a lot of different contol posts on your way through the island where you have to pay 5-10 Bolivianos each time for passing.. It doesn't help if you have a ticket from a previous control post, cause it is only avaible for a certain part of the island.
The view from the island is really nice, especially when you can take a look at the local houses at the same time
El camino hasta el sur!
Anyway, we walked quite fast because we knew that the others were supposed to be on the island more or less at the same time as we were struggeling up and down the hills of Isla del Sol, but when we arrived on the south side after about 2 1/2 hours of walking we couldn't see the others anywhere..
We decided to find a hostel in the village Yumani, which was very easy cause the locals were kind of desperate in search for customers. So we payed 25 Bolivianos each for an ok room with two beds and a public bathroom.
 Actually it was Raquel's birthday and we were supposed to celebrate it all together. But it was just the two of us, without phones and without any means of contacting the others.
So we just had an early dinner (we were quite tired from all the walking anyway) with the local specialty trout, which by the way is really delicious, and then we went to try and find a cake to celebrate just a little. Which we couldn't. They didn't even have ice cream..!! So the celebration wasn't really like we had thought it would be..
Fried trout, french fries and a fantastic view over Lago Titicaca.
 In the end we just watched the sunset, and decided to go to bed early. Actually, the clock wasn't more than 9 or something when we decided that we wanted to go to sleep. Though the island is nice and cozy there is no street lights in the evening, and not really a lot to do there either.
Sheeps and the sunset over Lago Titicaca.
The next morning we got up even earlier than planned (not so strange since we got to bed that early) and went down to the harbour to see when the boats were supposed to leave. And we were really lucky; we got there some minutes to eight, just as the boat was supposed to leave (which they never do anyway, since it is Bolivian time;)).
A llama down by the harbour.
 So I got the chance to snap a photo of the Escalera del Inca just before the boat left..
Escalera del Inca
 But even though we arrived in Copacabana quite early we didn't get to leave for La Paz. It turned out that this particular Sunday was the first National Day of the Pedestrian, or el Día del Peatón, which is going to take place annualy if everything works out as planned.. In other words, there was no bus going for La Paz until 2 in the afternoon and we were stuck.
So me and Raquel decided to chill out at one of the nice restaurants on the main tourist street going down to the harbour; we had some drinks and when Raquel told them that we were celebrating her birthday she got a piece of cake as well. Great service and great place!
Not to mention that while we were sitting there our friends Dorte and Ida suddently walked by. It was really weird bumping into them like that especially since we were supposed to meet them on the island the day before.. They told us that they had actually found a boat going up to the north part of the island, and that they had looked for us there.. Seemed we had been quite unlucky.!
They were staying in Copacabana longer than us, so at least we had time to share some drinks with them before we had to head for the bus that was going to leave Copacabana at 14:00.
Luckily we got to celebrate a little bit before going home.
 But there was still some problems with the busses; Bolivians tend to be late, and with the Day of the Pedestrian going on at the same time it was just double chaos. Eventually our bus did not leave until 15:00, and just as the bus started to drive Raquel noticed our other friends Kjetil and Lotte sitting in the bus next to ours also on their way home. It is so strange that we never actually met any of our friends while being on the island, but instead bumped into all of them in Copacabana.. What a weird trip..
Anyway, we did have a lot of fun too.. Next time we'll just make sure that we travel together instead...
A lot of chaos when everybody wants to get to La Paz at the same time..!!

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About Anette
Anette came to Japan as an exchange student in 2010, met the love of her life and got stuck. From her base in Tokyo she writes about her experiences as a full-time worker in Tokyo and about her travels in Japan and abroad. She's a free-spirited adventurer who enjoys both the great outdoors and her urban lifestyle.

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A modern day shield-maiden who loves to explore the unbeaten paths of the world. From her base in Tokyo, Anette takes on both rural and urban challenges, and goes by the motto "No challenge too big, no adventure too small"!
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