Exiting Peru from Puno took us a four hour drive to reach Copacabana on the Bolivian side of the border. The Peru – Bolivia border crossing was pretty straightforward but it was the first one we experienced where there was a gap between the offices (less than a five minute walk!) but still we were entertained by our short journey through nomansland!! On entry into Peru we had been given a stamped document and warned we would need it to exit so we packed that safely, unfortunately for some on our bus though there was a fine to pay, a delay at the border and some difficulty in crossing for those who were without.
When we arrived in Copacabana we “hopped off” the bus for two days. This is the Bolivian side of lake Titicaca. Even though the location in Brazil is much better known, interestingly, the Copacabana in Bolivia was actually the original one and the Brazil counterpart takes its name from there. It reminded us of a seaside resort and it was very easy to forget that we were sitting by a lake and not in fact the sea! We had a lakefront budget hotel for the night which was surprisingly better than anticipated. Our primary reason for spending a night in Copacabana was to use our accommodation for baggage storage the following day when we would take a trip to Isla Del Sol (the island of the sun) as the hiking there was more appealing without all our luggage on our backs!
We spent the evening in Copacabana waking to a viewpoint for the sunset over lake Titicaca called Cerro Calvario, a hill with the stations of the cross leading to the viewpoint.
The following morning our boat for Isla Del Sol departed at 8.30am. There are two stops on the island and we chose to arrive at Challampampa which is the north of the island and we spent our afternoon waking from there to Yumani in the south. Yumani is more suited to tourists with many options for accommodation etc. The walk took us about four very leisurely hours with breathtaking views in every direction on the way.
There are no motor vehicles or paved roads on the island. The main economic activity of the approximately 800 families on the island is farming, with fishing and tourism augmenting the subsistence economy. There are over 80 ruins on the island dating back to the Inca period circa the 15th century AD.
On arrival in Yumani we spent a short while looking for accommodation for the night and once the extremely friendly owner of Inti Wayra hostel showed me to a room that was free I knew I wasn’t looking any further. We had a room surrounded with windows each looking out over lake Titicaca which was so amazing
That evening we made our way to a highly recommended restaurant called Las Velas. I think anyone who visits this one does so on a recommendation as you have to walk a short walk through the forest to get here and it really is somewhere you go out of your way to get to. On arrival we instantly knew why though, the whole garden looks out over the lake with the perfect view of sunset and if that’s not enough amazing pizzas and trout to go with it!
There was only a handful of other travellers at the restaurant and it was a super evening learning some card games over beers and a view that even the best of cameras couldn’t do justice. The restaurant had no lights or electricity so candlelight and torches provided a super ambiance. After sunset the head torches were necessary to make our way back through the forest to our accommodation and finished off the perfect evening of island life!
The following morning I couldn’t help myself but to set a 6am alarm and open all the curtains to watch the sunrise, we were spoiled with our room and I had fallen head over heels for lake Titicaca. We were due to hop back on the Bolivia hop bus that evening to finish our journey to La Paz but if I had internet I definitely would have logged on to change the itinerary for more time in Isla Del sol – there really isn’t anything to do there apart form walk the island, but it is stunning beyond words!
After taking the boat back to Copacabana we found ourselves in serious luck finding a cafe called the Eagle and Condor cafe and with just a half hour left before closing time. It is run by a man from Cork and his Bolivian wife it was some of the best food we had since we left home. They import Barry’s tea from Ireland each month! Neither of us are big tea drinkers so this didn’t have the same impact on us as I’m sure it has on other Irish travellers (my mum comes to mind…carrying Barry’s tea with her wherever she goes!!). Anyways I devoured homemade Irish soda bread, baked beans and eggs (served in Irish shot glasses-no less). It was really amazing and a lovely reminder of home!