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Exploring Bolivia – Lake Titicaca

This is where the world was born.


The lake is believed to be the birthplace and home to the gods which created the world. Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America, on the Border with Peru on the western side of Bolivia. The lake is at 3800 metres, but due to it’s size it’s easy to believe you are sea level.


We started from La Paz on a road trip with Humberto who runs the Equine therapy for kids, Adri and Ellie. It took us firstly up to El Alto and then across the Altiplano to the great lake.


To get to Copacabana we had to get a lift across the lake on a barge. It was hard to believe what these boats carry! This was the only way across the lake at it’s thinnest point.



We arrived in Copacabana near sunset and watched the brilliant colours across the lake.



We managed to book a private boat to take us across to the Isla de Sol. Heading to the island in the twilight. It was a cloudless night, this coupled with the high altitude and lack of city light made the stars clearer than I had ever seen. There were two falling stars which seemed to hang for ages. It was easy to see why this place was regarded to be the realm of gods.


We arrived on the island in the dark and had to walk a very thin plank jetty to get to shore from the boat. We were taken to the dock used by locals. There was not enough space on the plank to put two feet next to each other, with a drop in to the lake at each side.


It was about a 200 metre hike up the side of the hill in the dark to get to the lights at the top. This really reminded us of the altitude, thankfully months in La Paz had prepared us for this.

After getting some directions to a hostel the boatman headed home himself. We threw our belongings into our beautiful island accommodation and set out for our first taste of ‘trucha’ the island trout renowned all over the country. It certainly did not disappoint!


We had arrived in the night so the morning was the first day to see the lake from the island. We were all up for sunrise and our first glimpse of the paradise we’d woken up in was breathtaking! 



The island was waking up and people were going about their daily business. There are no vehicles at all on Isla del sol so the only modes of transport are your feet, a donkey or a llama. 


We waved goodbye to the rest of our party who had to head back to La Paz for pesky things like jobs! 

We were kind of undecided as to what we should do on our first full day on the Isla as we were supposed to be chilling…..however having contemplated the map we decided to hike to the other end of the island and stay over night at the other end. Not the relaxing mini break we’d envisioned but seemed to beautiful an opportunity not to hike the 3800-4100m above sea level island now we were here. 

The track was clearly marked and we got to the top of some of the highest peaks on the island which did not disappoint us. Each and every corner we turned or peak we climbed was breathtaking and we saw probably 30 other tourists in the whole day. Absolutely beautiful day so we knew we’d made the right choice.

After a 14km of trekking we bushwhacked down the side of a 4100m peak to an island village called Challapampa. This was a small fishing village at the other end of the island. Hostel prices were between 25 and 40 bolivianos (£3-£5pp) and they were used to tourists. 


The village was a mix of the old and new. The old ways of keeping animals and island life, mixed with new tourism. Pigs and donkeys wandering freely and hostels in nearly every building. We went in search of more trout that evening but as there was a village fiesta we had to settled for pastel instead. We had another lovely hostel with another beautiful lake view to wake up to. 


 

The next day we decided to hike back to the other side of the island to get the boat back to the mainland. The return trail followed the coast and not the peaks so was a faster track with completely different scenery.


We met some pigs.



Then this dog.


He befriended us early on the trail and showed us which track to take when there were two options. A very smart friendly boy. However we found later the dog was hated by locals. Apparently it had killed over 100 sheep. We had befriended a killer! But he got us back to the other side of the island so what’s a few sheep amongst friends huh? 


The trek back took us through more villages where we got to see more about Bolivian rural life, vastly different from life in cosmopolitan Sopocachi, La Paz. 



The boat back in the day was a very different experience. Crammed in with other gringos, it was much better on the private charter under the stars! 

Back in Copacabana we visited one the oldest churches in Bolivia and had a wander round the town. This is a typical touristy seaside town. Still with beautiful views and amazing buildings but very much geared to tourists. 


After a bit of walking around town and two more lots of trucha (felt we should make up for missing out the day before!) we grabbed a 20 Boliviano bus back to La Paz shattered but with a renewed thirst to get travelling again!