The Highest Lake In The World & The Inca Island Of Creation
05.09.2012 - 06.09.2012 10 °C
Following a full day of recovery from a night out on the town in La Paz, we bought bus tickets in the early morning and headed 3 hours west towards Lake Titicaca's coastal town called Copacabana. Once again the scenery along the bus route did not disappoint... beautiful Andean views!
Seeing is how this was our last Bolivia stop let me update you with a map of our 3 week tour throughout the country:
As you can see we covered quite a lot of ground throughout Bolivia (yes this means many terrible bus rides) but it was well worth it! The diversity of this country's landscape still amazes us... jungle, mountains, desert, salt flats, volcanoes, lagoons, and now as you will soon see high altitude lakes. To give you a better idea of the scope of Lake Titicaca here is a more detailed map:
You can see the lake is actually divided between both Peru and Bolivia and sits at an average altitude of around 3800 M and has a total area of around 8372 km2. Our bus arrived at San Pedro and we had to take a ferry to cross to the other side.
Obviously our bus had to do the same...
Arriving on the other side...
After re-boarding the bus and another 45 minute drive we arrived in lakeside community of Copacabana. Other tourists we spoke with didn't have really all that many great things to say about it, but we found the place to be very decent. After grabbing a quick lunch I left Stacey with the packs and set off to find us a hotel for the night.
There were plenty of great options and I decided to say screw it and book a really nice lakefront hotel with a great balcony and view of the harbour... sometimes you gotta splurge lol.
After settling into our hotel we headed back out on the town to explore a little bit and to check out all the local markets. Pretty much the same swag as in La Paz (roughly the same price) but it's still always fun to look.
Stacey in a 'Cholita' hat...
Met a street dog on our walkabout with the most beautiful eyes... so I bought him a saltina (meat filled street pastry) and we became fast friends.
Back on our balcony with a bottle of wine to bask in another amazing sunset...
The following morning we booked ourselves ferry tickets for the day to the Isla Del Sol which is one of the main islands of Lake Titicaca but which also features several ancient sets of ruins and also the site where the Incas believe creation took place. So after a 2 hour + long ferry ride of being trapped in a cab engulfed in gasoline fumes we arrived.... lungs and eyes burning lol.
A pig on the beach...
The island itself was quite beautiful and we couldn't have picked a nicer sunnier day to see it (although I did not use sunscreen and received the most horrible burn to the back of my neck... my worst of the trip thus far!). That being said it is still a pretty desolate place with really no trees or major villages. Hotel pickings were pretty slim as well as restaurants so we decided to just spend the day on the island rather then overnighting it.
Our 2 hour hike to the ruins...
A stone table used for human sacrifice.... you could still see blood on it.
There are no shortages of these folks in Peru (even though yes I know we are still in Bolivia at this point)...
At first we both couldn't believe the quantity of tourists mainly in Peru (Bolivia is not as busy of course). It is the busy season I suppose (North American and European holidays) but I still can't believe the numbers. And everyone shows up with their brand new North Face or Jack Wolfskin gear all decked out to the nines like there going to be living in the wild like Bear Grylls lol. And what's with the short pants? I mean your on vacation for 2 weeks and you don't have enough room to pack both a pair of shorts and pants? People must think their pretty clever lol but to me it just makes you stand out like a tourist mark that much more. I mean your already a gringo... you don't need to add to the tourist stereotype any more by dressing like a wanker... sorry... I just think it looks silly... I don't care if it's "practical"... your walking... not climbing Everest. Its like a tour group of Asians coming to Canada decked out in full Roots gear with Beavers on their sweaters or something lol.
Finally arriving at the ruins... hot, sunburnt and out of breath from the altitude.
To be honest we weren't overly that impressed with the Ilsa Del Sol. Maybe it's because we've been spoiled with so many great sights this year, but to be honest nothing was labelled, there were no maps or explanations at any of the ruins and to boot they weren't all that impressive or even old (most date to the 15 century). Apparently there has been some evidence found that indicts there was civilization living on the island as early as 2200 BC but nothing we found on the island even mentioned it.
Always lots of friendly local animals around in Bolivia!
A brief pitstop at the museum...
One of several small villages on the island and also the point where we caught the ferry back to Copacabana.
That night we celebrated our island hopping and sunburns with a visit to a local Mexican restaurant in town. Probably the best burritos and chilli con carne we've had all year!!
The following morning we packed up our bags for the last time in Bolivia and boarded a bus which would cross the border into Peru (our second last country!!). That morning we said good-bye to our trusty old global bed sheets lol. You saved our asses and bodies many of nights from terribly filthy beds. For the record, if you ever backpack the world bring yourself a set of sheets! At this point we just couldn't take the weight anymore... and because bedding throughout Bolivia was more then acceptable... we just assumed Peru would be the same.
Crossing at the Peru border...
At a first glance not a heck of a lot changes crossing the border into Peru. For the most part people look and dress very similar and obviously both countries speak spanish. At the bus station in Puno (where we would change buses for our onward travel to Arequipa) however you could notice how Peru definitely caters more towards tourism (announcements were actually translated into English!!).
And that finishes off Bolivia guys! Really enjoyed our time there. For the most part things were always cheap, the people were a lot more friendly then in Brazil, the food was way better (both in terms of quality and ethnicity) and the sights were fantastic. Would I recommend Bolivia as a travel destination? Absolutely!! But make sure to spend at least a couple of weeks there to get a good sense of what it has to offer. Looking back I feel as though we did a pretty good job covering most of the sights. My one regret... missing out on the Amazon. North of La Paz there are some great places to take tours of the infamous jungle. Snakes, swimming with pink dolphins and fishing for piranhas are all part of the itinerary. But do yourself a HUGE favour.... don't be a cheapskate, skip the bus rides and book yourself some flights! Both your ass and travel partner will thank you!