Isla del Sol

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Isla del Sol ("Island of the Sun") is the largest island on Lake Titicaca, and part of Bolivian territory. An ancient holy site of the Inca, it's easily reachable from Copacabana.

Isla del Sol with peaks of the Cordillera Real in the background
Isla del Sol
Indian women in Isla del Sol
Puerto de la Isla del Sol

Cities[edit]

Understand[edit]

Inca legend says that Viracocha, the bearded god who created the universe, emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca and created the sun at this location.

Get in[edit]

The only conventional way to get to Isla del Sol is by boat. Numerous tour companies operate full and half-day excursions from Copacabana. You can make reservations at the agencies, or just go down to the waterfront around 8:00 or 1:00. It's also possible to catch boats from Yampupata at the northern tip of the peninsula.

Recommend leaving your large backpack with a hostel in Copacabana as getting up the inca steps in Yumani is hard work at altitude.

Get around[edit]

There are no motor vehicles on Isla del Sol. It might be possible to rent a donkey.

See[edit]

Unless you're spending the night on the island, your itinerary will be basically determined by the boat tour you arrived on. Frankly, the half-day tour is barely worthwhile as it consists only of a brief stop at the southern end and most of your time will be spent on the boat.

A full-day tour will take two hours to get from Copacabana to Cha'llapampa, two and a half hours to see the museum and make a round trip hike to the Rock of the Puma, three hours to take the boat to Isla de la Luna and back to the Inca Steps at the town of Yumani, and two hours for the ride back to Copacabana. You can also choose to hike from the Rock of the Puma back to Yumani (three hours) and catch the boat from there. (Decide on this when buying tickets, as the boat fare to Isla de la Luna adds just a bit to the cost.)

  • Cha'llapampa, the town on the northern end of the island, is where the boat lets you off. The Gold Museum (Museo de Oro) displays Inca treasures which were discovered underwater off the island in the last decade. The Bs5 admission also lets you see the Rock of the Puma. Other than that, the town has a small beach and some dirt roads.
  • The sights on the northern tip are ancient Inca sacred sites. The Rock of the Puma, or Titi Kharka, after which the lake is named, is a large formation that will probably look nothing like a puma until the guide points it out. Your reaction will likely either be "Ah, there it is!" or "That's it?!" A short distance from the rock is the Inca Table, a low platform fashioned of stone. You may just be imagining a red tint on it, but it was supposedly used for human sacrifices. The Footsteps of the Sun nearby are a set of natural (or supernatural?) impressions in rock.
  • From Yumani on the southern part of the island, the Inca Steps descend down to the water. At the bottom is the Fountain of Youth. (Oh, those gullible conquistadors!) The channel of water flowing down the hill should convince you that drinking from it is much more likely to shorten your life than extend it.
  • The Temple of Pilcocaina is a little further south, and is an optional stop for the boat tour. Bs5 admission.

Eat[edit]

Again, Yumani has the best offerings. Challapampa could be good for lunch if you are coming with the morning boat and staying overnight on the island. Many places in Copacabana will sell you a lunch box, convinient for daytrippers. The few shops around have limited stocks, -fruits are mostly bananas and apples.

Sleep[edit]

Yumani is growing fast and already has a lot of tourist facilities. There are some basic alojamientos in Challapampa and Challa.The cheapest hospedajes start at about $2usd per night. At those prices expect basic conditions, everything is pretty clean and decent though. Camping should be possible many places.

Go next[edit]

Isla de la Luna is easiest visited from Yumani, by renting a boat.

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