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March 2018, Titicaca Lake – Bolivia&Peru
Lake Titicaca, with its elevation of 3812 meters, is the highest navigable body of water in the world. Considered the birthplace of the Incas, it’s home to ancient ruins, impressive legends and local tribes living in total isolation.
Below you will find our itinerary for Titicaca Lake in 1 day: Copacabana – Isla del Sol – Puno. Even if Titicaca seems hard to reach, it’s possible to get on both Bolivian and Peruan shores quite easily in just one day.
All you need is a little bit of planning. And waking up early. 🙂
The morning we finally leave La Paz feels like an escape. After having a severe tooth infection and considering ending our journey in Bolivia, we are now absolutely thrilled of jumping in the bus again!
A few hours on the road, and we reach a dead end. There is no way to move forward, than crossing Tiquina Strait on water. We squeeze in a tiny boat and start moving to the opposite shore. On the other hand, our poor bus is floating on an old ferry, with locals throwing out water from it every 10 seconds.
Finally, we are reunited with the bus an hour later, and take off to the village of Copacabana. Far in the distance, we can already see its rich fields with vegetables laying in the splendid sun.
It is said that the word Copacabana comes from the Aymara phrase “kota kahuana”, which means ‘view of the lake’. After the conquistadors’ arrival, they approximated the name with a more familiar one.
A healthy breakfast, some hot coca tea, and we are ready to navigate on water again, to Isla del Sol. The electric boat starts moving slowly on the highest navigable lake in the world, Titicaca.
We are at 3800 meters above sea level!
ISLA DEL SOL
An hour and a half later, still dizzy from the water movement, we descend on the island and start climbing its perfectly aligned terraces. Soon, we stumble upon pre-inca sites.
From time to time, a herd of alpacas crosses the way. Groups of children playing with sticks forbid us to step on their drawings in the sand, so we are often forced to change the course.
Surprisingly, the island is still inhabited by isolated communities. They cultivate vegetables in the yard, make their own clothing and celebrate gods. It seems like we stepped into another dimension here. Time passes slower for people on Isla del Sol.
As we descend on the other side, we reach an old fountain. There is nothing more rewarding than having a sip of cold-as-ice water here, near steps carved in stone by Incas.
Engraved on the walls, words of wisdom stand the test of time:
“Amasua, AmaKella, AmaLlulla” (Don’t be lazy, don’t be a liar, don’t be a thief).
The journey on the Island of the Sun leaves us speechless, and exhausted. All we want is a place to rest out feet for the night. Can’t wait to finally enter Peru, after 2 exhausting months on the road.
We set foot in Puno, the Peruan town on the other side of Lake Titicaca, with the satisfaction of a traveler who has gone through a lot to get here.
As if the day hasn’t been intense enough, there’s a major celebration on the streets. The locals are all dressed in black&white traditional costumes. Everybody’s dancing in concentric circles, on loud music.
At one point, they start marching on the streets, singing, gathering more and more people on the go.
Apparently, those who do not want to join are sprayed with foam. Oh no… Ruuuuuuuun!
How to get to Titicaca Lake
You can reach Titicaca Lake from both sides, from 2 small villages: Copacabana (Bolivia) and Puno (Peru).
Bolivia Hop and Peru Hop run daily buses that stop on both sides and connect Copacabana and Puno to bigger nearby cities (Copacabana-La Paz and Puno-Cusco). You can even start with them in Bolivia and cross Peru on a hop-on hop-off system, like we did.
La Paz – Copacabana – Puno: 30 USD/pers with Bolivia Hop
Isla del Sol: 20 USD/pers
45 BOL(6 USD)/pers/meal in Copacabana
25 SOL(8 USD) /pers/meal in Puno
36 USD/night/double room in Puno
In January 2018 we booked one-way tickets, took our backpacks and left cozy old Europe, for (hopefully) the greatest adventure of our lives: South America. If you like our story, don’t forget to spread the word!
Happy travels and stay safe!