Posted on September 9, 2015
On the Shores of Lake Titicaca
The bus ride from La Paz to Copacabana took about 3.5 hours. We found a good deal through Bolivia Hop and it only cost us $15 each. At one point along the way we had to disembark for a short trip across the lake. The bus literally went on a small raft just big enough for the bus and we rode separately across on a speed boat. Kinda crazy but funny to watch too.
Again Aaron found a gem of a place to stay in Copacabana. I would consider Hotel la Cupula to be in the top 3 places we have stayed on this trip so far (next to Illha Grande and Santa Cruz). Milking this whole surgery recovery thing a bit longer we treated ourselves and went with their best room ($55/night). We were definitely not disappointed when we arrived. It was beautifully designed in with a Mediterranean sort of feel and had 360° views of the town and lake below. We had a giant king sized bed, fireplace, seating area, kitchenette and the best part, and what I had been looking forward to the most, was the large 2-person jacuzzi tub! All the windows were stained glass and it just seemed so relaxing and luxurious compared to some of other other accommodations we have stayed in. There are 4 separate well maintained gardens for guests to relax in with lounge chairs, hammocks and benches, but the funniest and most clever part was the “Inca lawnmowers”!
Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world at12,507 ft and is located in the Andes Mountains on the border with Peru. Inca religion believed that the sun god was born in this lake and therefore is considered to be sacred. Although the town is quite small it has a large 16th-century cathedral, called the Basilica of Our Lady of Copacabana who is the patron saint of Bolivia. Every year hundreds of Catholics flood the town for a big festival in early August.
It’s been tough as I’ve had to pick and choose what activities to do, but a hike to the top of San Christòbal mountain was something I easily passed on. Plus I was I didn’t mind a couple hours alone in peace and quiet.
This section as told by Aaron: The trail began just at the top of the street we were staying on, but it was still very steep, and only got steeper. At the end of the road was a stone path that led to the start of the trail. The trail itself was more of a staircase, winding back and forth with cross statues at each switchbacks all the way up the side of the hill. At the top, the air was thick with the smell of wax from people burning candles for relatives, and there were a row of crosses leading to a large alter with a statue in it. Of course, the sides were lined with vendors, how did they get all that stuff up here?!? It was about 20 minutes to sunset, so I decided to wait and enjoy the view, and what a view it was! Both the city and the lake were beautiful!
Back to Lindsay: To fill some time one day we visited the small yet informative Museo del Poncho ($2/each). It was actually pretty interesting and only took about 20-30 mins to see all the whole exhibit. It was a nice change to focus on menswear for once since most museums stick to showing the more elaborate woman’s wear. Unfortunately, no pictures allowed in the museum.
We were going to have to move hotel rooms for 1 night so instead we decided to catch a boat to the Isla del Sol. It was a 1.5 hr boat ride to the main town in the middle of the island called Yumani where we stayed 1 night at Hostel Jacha Inti. The town is built right into the side of a large hill and everywhere you look there are stairs, stairs and more stairs! Thank goodness our hostel was not too far up and had absolutely gorgeous views of the port and Lake Titicaca. We enjoyed the sunshine from our balcony while playing yahtzee and drinking coca tea before having dinner at the hostel restaurant. There are no cars, much less roads on the islands so walking and/or donkey is the main mode of transportation. I had to laugh when in the morning I was woken up by a donkey instead of a rooster!
Since I am still trying to take it easy I decided not to join Aaron the next day on a hike to the south end of the island. With the altitude and my lack of strength still these days it just didn’t seem worth it to kill myself over. I stayed back at the hostel and relaxed in the sun, caught up on emails/blogging and enjoyed the gorgeous views. Plus, I figured if I could just look at all the pictures Aaron took it’d be just like I was there with none of the effort, right? If only it was that simple. I can’t wait till I’m 100% again; I feel so lame.
Back to Aaron writing again: I assumed that since the main thing to do on the island is hike, the trail to the Sun Temple would be pretty obvious. It started up a large, staircase flanked by two giant statues of inca natives and lined with beautiful fields of flowers. There was even a small stream (or gutter) to one side of the trail providing nice sounds as you climbed up the first section of the trail. After a gate, the trail became a little more typical, winding back and forth through some small houses and hostels. A few vendors were out, but less than usual since it was Sunday. After about 10 minutes, I was at the town and the trail split into a series of roads. There are no cars on the island so, maybe I should call them paths though. I kept going on the largest trail, past a church and between some terraced fields. Donkeys kept looking at me as if I was very much out of place. I began to agree with their assessment. I was definitely headed north, and the sun temple was south. I turned around and headed back into town, but because it was Sunday, everyone was at church and not available for pointing me in the right direction. Finally, I found someone and they pointed down the road to the south. Ok, at least now I am going the right direction. The path slowly narrowed to a single footpath winding through a small forest, past some small houses, and then to what seemed to be a donkey trail through the fields. This was definitely not the correct path, but I still felt like I was going the right direction, so I continued on. The trail led along the southern ridge of the island, weaving through the terraced fields, giving great views all along the way of the mountains, and waterline. I also had a great view of the trail I should have taken.
After I climbed to the southernmost peak of the island, I began heading downward to the other trail. There wasn’t really a clear path, so I just followed a donkey trail down the side of the hill. Finally I met up with the main trail and found the sun temple. It was well worth the effort. A cool smiling rock greeted me at the entrance to a series of rooms, some very dark, others leading through to deeper parts of the temple. It was awe inspiring that this was built before Inca times. After exploring the 10 or so rooms, I headed back.
Back in Copacabana we returned to the same room we had been renting the last couple of days at Hotel la Cupula. We didn’t miss a chance to enjoy yet another soak in the jacuzzi and a beautiful sunset overlooking the lake. This place does seem to have a bit of magic to it.
I need to make a special mention of an excellent nonprofit restaurant we found called Pan America Bakery and Pizzeria. It’s owned and operated by a lovely couple (Jeff and Debbie) from Chicago, IL and all proceeds go to support local service and sustainable economic development projects of Mision Fronteras. It was warm and inviting inside and the handmade pizza was absolutely delicious. Oh and not too mention the homemade granola chocolate chip cookies we got too!! It was fun to talk to someone that knew where we were from, as it was just sort of comforting and refreshing. They even have a house in South Haven, MI that they visit a couple months a year. This really is a small world! (Queue up “It’s a Small World After All” on repeat in your head, you’re welcome)