Inca legend says that Viracocha, who created the universe (apparently), emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca and created the sun, hence Isla del Sol. The place is packed with Inca ruins and stunning coastline. There are still about 800 families living on the island, some still working the land, the rest now working the tourist dollar.
It has to be mentioned that there are also a fair number of soap dodging hippies on the island. No I don’t want to buy your home-made bracelets, have a wash and control those feral children of yours. Hippies never use to irritate me, I guess it’s me getting old again.
It’s a two hour boat ride from Copacabana, and we decide to head straight to the North of the island,Cha’llapampa, where most of the ruins are in the relative lowland. As we step off the boat it’s like stepping back in time, there are only a few dirt roads between the small houses and huts and donkeys replace cars as the only transport.
The boat arrives at Cha’llapampa at around 10:30am and leaves for the South of the island around 1:30pm, which gives us just enough time to take a look around. There is an impressive hike between the North and South villages but we decide against it as we are still at altitude and are feeling lazy.
The scenery here is stunning, even without the Inca history it would be worth the visit. We pass the Rock of the Puma, or Titi Kharkae, which gave the lake it’s name; an Inca table used for human sacrifice; and finally the Temple of Pilcocaina, a surprisingly well preserved Inca settlement. The altitude and heat is unforgiving, so after a dubious chicken sandwich and a warm drink (there is electricity for only a few hours here) we find some shade and wait for the boat.
Many people visit Isla del Sol on a day trip from Copacabana. Don’t. You will only have a few hours on the island and will spend most of your time on the boat. There are a number of places to stay at Yumani, in the South, if you can manage the devastating 400m climb up the steps from the port.
Small kids tout accommodation when getting off the boat, and are harmless. They seem reasonably impartial and will take you to a number of hostels for you to choose. They get tipped by the hostel owner but we give the chap a little extra as he finds us a private room at Inti Wasi. It’s a basic room with a toilet and shower (water between 8pm and 8am), the shower however is hooked up to the mains and gives an incredible shock when you try and turn it on. I must remember to write a blog about the unbelievably dangerous showers they have out here…
There is nothing to do here at night apart from eat or drink. We head up to the ridge for sunset and bag a quite spectacular table, another incredible few hours. The sun sets across the island as wild donkeys run through the streets behind us. The temperature drops, we have another beer and head back to our hostel for a great pizza.
I didn’t mention the best bit about our accommodation – our bed sits at the foot of a large window looking out directly over Lake Titicaca and the Cordillera mountains in the distance, the best seats in the house for the sunrise. So at 6:15am we shuffle to the end of the bed and open the curtains to watch the sun break over the mountains. I will end this blog with a nice little HD video of the sunrise, about 30 minutes compressed into 30 seconds. Enjoy.