Living it up on Lake Titicaca
18.11.2015 - 20.12.2015
When researching our journey, the border crossing from Peru to Bolivia seems to encounter its fair share of horror stories – involving solo travellers and corrupt officials, and our taxi driver tells us its a regular occurrence for both Bolivia and Peru, unless there’s a senior officer at the border. For this reason Jo opted for the Bolivia Hop Bus Co. to take us from Cusco, as they make crossing the transfer a lot less of a hassle for unwitting tourists and needless to say our first ever border crossing went through without a hitch. Our first stop in Bolivia is a quick break in Copacabana, before catching the 1 ½ hour boat ride out to the idyllic Isle del Sol, where, according to legend, life on earth began on the island and spread outwards, the 2 statues flanking the stairway to the fountain of youth are the local equivalent of Adam and Eve. There is apparently a cave in the North of the island leading into the lake, the entrance to 1 of 3 lost Andean cities local legends claim pre date known history by tens of thousands of years, this one and another beneath Salar de Uyuni hidden during the seismic upheaval that pushed these 2 lakes to the altitude they now sit.
Departing the boat you’re greeted with numerous lodges and hostels upon the east facing hill, with views to the sacred Mt Illumpa, the tranquillity of an island with no motor vehicles permeated with the gently tapping of a distant hammer, and the relaxed chatter of the islands inhabitants. Accommodation can be found instantly on the shore, however once Jo realised the possibility of a sunset view from the top, our path was set with a disturbingly steep climb. During our trip upwards we encountered large discrepancies in price and quality of hostels, ask to see the rooms and shop around if you can handle the walk, we found a few places that thought a little too highly of their rooms, plus there’s plenty of options on the island, especially in the quiet season. Laden with our packs it was a painful climb to the top, a fact made worse by elderly residents with equally heavy loads overtaking us on the path. Yet numerous breaks to fill the aching lungs, and the vision of a sunset room, 45min later we were at the summit. (With no vehicles on the island so the only way up is to walk, you could attempt to bribe one of the donkeys) We reached the top of Yamani and immediately found IntiKala Hostel, our persistence paying off with an en-suited bedroom looking out over the western shore of the lake. It was slightly more expensive than some of the others at 160 Bs’ for the night ( only $35ish NZ), but hey, you only live once right. And apart some dodgy looking wiring in the shower head (we found out this is normal here, but still wore rubber jandals for insurance ), provided a fantastic base for exploring the island. With Pachamama restaurant right next door and serving a fresh trout dish for 35 Bs’, we were set for a front row seat watching the sun go down. Just after sunset we witnessed a number of dark objects gliding slowly in the harbour below – comparing the size to the anchored boats they would have been easily the size of humans. Our fellow diners had seen them also, reducing the chance of hallucination, and upon enquiry with a local, we were told they are snakes. Although summoning the Almighty Google revealed nothing on the topic, a separate conversation with a guide in Bolivia backed the story, there is writing of them in books .There’s old Incan ruins and a few little villages to explore on the island, but we’re planning on using the 2 days here to eat well, catch up on sleep, and with a view like this to sip Pascena’s and Pisco Sours to….. why the hell not.
Sunset / ......and Sunrise / Restaurant Under Construction / Inti Kala Hostel ( Rear View) / This is The Good Life / Easier Going Down
FYI- Despite Jo’s assurance, there’s no ATM on the island, nor money exchange. As our 350 B’s dwindled we were fortunate enough to swap some USD at a slightly undesirable rate, at one of the local restaurants.