ISLA DEL SOL | The Waters of Lake Titicaca

Isla del Sol; Lake Titicaca Bolivia

Have you ever had a place truly resonate with you?

A place where you feel in tune with your surroundings, with yourself?

After a month of overland travel in rugged Bolivia, the sight of the enormous body of water pulls me in instantly.
It seems endless, powerful, hypnotizing… I suspect it holds ancient secerets of the Incan gods in its depths.
I feel myself gravitate towards the lake, I feel at home.

Unparalleled beauty

A rickety boat ride from busy Copacabana and an intense climb up the Inca stairs finally bring us to the village of Yumani at the southern end of the island. Doña Dominga offers us a room in her back yard, amongst potatoe plants and flowers.
It’s simple with only cold water, but the view from our window compensates any lack of luxury.

Yumani village on the ridge of Isla del Sol. Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
Yumani on the southern ridge of the island.

Lake Titicaca spreads in all directions in wonderful shades of blue, agricultural terraces line the hills and sheep graze on the green slopes. There’s no traffic on the island and the only thing that might disturb your zen is a stubborn donky sounding the alarm in the early morning for no reason whatsoever.

What sets Isla del Sol apart besides the incredible natural beauty is a sense of peace and serenity that literally fills the air.
The island welcomes and embraces you, like you belonged here all along.

Standing on Isla del Sol; Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
Cold but incredibly beautiful!
Sheep grazing on Isla del Sol; Lake TIticaca, Bolivia.
Postcard feeling.
After visiting the nearby lookout we head to the school yard in order to locate the source of the blazing music we’ve been hearing since our arrival. We suspect they’re celebrating carneval and want to see what the fuss is all about.

Yumani; Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Curious me, curious you.

We’re not the only ones curious about the festivities and many faces line up the wall peeking into the yard. As it turns out the celebration is a welcome-home-from-the-army party. In Serbia they celabrate when teenage boys go to the army, as opposed to here where homecoming is the main event. Gents and ladies celebrate in separate groups, beers are shared and some even dance to live music. Watching Bolivians socialize is both captivating and intriguing at the same time.

People celebrating in Yumani; Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Wardrobe as a present in a school yard?!
People celebrate in Yumani; Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Altiplano fashion was at its best!

Let the hike begin

On the next day we start the hike across Isla del Sol. The plan is to walk all the way to the northern ruins and pass through the other big community Challapampa along the eastern side, closing the circuit back in Yumani.

The old Inca stone road runs along the hilly ridge with incredible views opening up all around us. Little bays dotted with anchored boats decorate the rugged coast. Delighted by our surroundings we forget the altitude and the sharp winds.

Coast of Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
Traveler on Isla del Sol; Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Taking breaks with a view.
Landscape Isla del Sol; Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
Hiking trail Isla del Sol; Lake Titicaca, Bolivia. Hiking on ancient Inca roads.
As we reach the sacred rock Titi Kharka that gave the lake its name, there are already numerous tour groups exploring the ruins. We have lunch on a nearby hill overlooking the area grateful we’re doing this independently and have plenty of time to enjoy as we like. We soak in the incredible 360° views and wait for the masses to clear, we’re not in a hurry after all.
Isla del Sol; Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

Boat on the waters of Lake Titicaca; Isla del Sol, Bolivia.

Isla del Sol panorama landscape; Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
Our most favorite spot on the island.

Closing the loop

Challapampa has a hippie vibe with tents lined up its wonderful beach. Although the waters looks very inviting we’re not brave enough to test them, the cold is ruthless. Countless times we stop along the way to take in the views and snap far too many pictures. None of them seems to do this incredible place justice.

The beach in Challapampa on Isla del Sol; Lake Titicaca, Bolivia.
The beach in Challapampa.

After a long day, pretty tired but happy we reach Yumani just in time for sunset. Cordillera Real finally presents itself, defying the clouds that enveloped it the previous days. The magic of this place seems so strong and all-ecompassing.

Cordillera Real seen from Isla del Sol in Bolivia on Lake Titicaca.
Cordillera Real in all its glory.

Unfortunately it’s time to move on wondering if we’ll ever break free from the mysterious pull this island has on us. During the cramped, fumes scented boat ride back to the mainland, we can’t help but feel in awe of Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca and Bolivia.


Have you been to Isla del Sol in Bolivia? Have you felt the same magic we did?
We’d love to know about your experience!

Safe travels,

H&M

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