Discover Bolivia: Copacabana & the Sun Island

Discover Bolivia: Copacabana & the Sun Island

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I took this incredible 2-day tour from La Paz to Copacabana & the Sun Island which included a guided tour on Lake Titicaca to Isla del Sol and Copacabana, 1-night accommodation, meals, transport and many memorable moments. The Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) is the largest island in Lake Titicaca, a sacred and ancient site of the Inca people, and is easily accessed from Copacabana.

The tour started promptly at 7:00 hrs when the Bamba Experience staff picked us up at our hostel in La Paz. From there we went straight to Copacabana, our last stop before embarking on our journey to Isla del Sol. Upon arrival in Copacabana at around 11:00 hrs, we were greeted with a delicious Bolivian lunch of trout from Lake Titicaca, which helped us charge our batteries for the big day ahead.

After lunch, we hopped on the boat that took us to Isla del Sol on a scenic 2-hour journey. To make the ride more adventurous, we decided to sit on the top of the boat enduring the freezing wind, but it was worth it!

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Upon arrival to the island, we started our 8-kilometre Inca Trail hike from the northern point of the island to the south which took us around 3 hours in total. The path runs along the top of the island with spectacular views of the lake and several Inca shrines, temples and ruins dedicated to the God of the Sun. It is estimated that the island has been inhabited for over 5,000 years!

Trilha Inca

We arrived to Inti Kala Hostel as we finished our trek and were happy to find comfortable beds, an impeccably clean room and a hot water shower (what a miracle!). We watched the sunset from the scenic overlook point on at the top of the island with breathtaking views of Peru and Boliva.

Mirante improvisado

The only problem was that the hostel had no Wi-Fi but in the end it was a blessing in disguise for us because we spent the rest of our time there enjoying the views and star-gazing at the spectacular starry night sky over the immense Lake Titicaca.

Nosso quarto no Inti Kala Hostal

Lake Titicaca is the world’s highest navigable body of water and the largest in water volume in South America. According to Andean legend, the Inca civilization was born out of the water in Lake Titicaca. The “Sun God” instructed their children to seek an ideal place for their people. Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo then came to the Sun Island and declared it the birthplace of the Incas, who ruled the region from the twelfth to the sixteenth century before its demise under the Spanish invasion.

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Most of the island is inhabited by indigenous Quechua and Aymara communities who are dedicated to agriculture, tourism, crafts and grazing. The languages ​​spoken are ancestral languages ​​such as Quechua and Aymara as well as Spanish. “Love Her, Ama Llulla, Ama Kella,” is a popular saying of Inca culture that enchanted me. In the Quechua language means: “Do not steal, do not lie, do not be idle”

"Ama Sua, Ama Llulla, Ama Kella", é um dito popular da cultura Inca que me encantou, no idioma Quechua que significa: "Não roube, não mintas, não sejas ocioso”

This tour was one of the high points of our trip. We have partnered with the company  Bamba Experience  and I was very pleased with their work. The tour was amazing and the guide (Juan) excellent, he showed us everything we expected and more, teaching us a bit of local culture and knowledge in each place we visited. Being with a great guide like Juan made ​​all the difference!  Islanders are extremely traditional and a large part even speak Spanish. The hostel and the included food exceeded our expectations and we had an unforgettable tour of Copacabana.

Basílica de Nuestra Señora de Copacabana

Copacabana has good tourist infrastructure and borders with Peru, located only 8 hours from Puno and the nearby Uros Floating Reed Islands. We ended the tour with a flourish, visiting the Basilica Nuestra Señora de Copacabana. With a stunning beauty, this basilica has a large collection of religious objects and houses the famous sculpture of “Virgen de la Candelaria or Virgen Morena”, which was carved by Francisco Tito Yupanqui, a descendant of Inca Wayna Qhapak. This dark-skinned image of the Virgin was carefully carved and is permanently covered by sheets of luxury and bespoke suits. Interestingly, the original image never leaves the basilica and a replica is carried during processions.  The Basilica Nuestra Señora de Copacabana is one of the most ancient basilicas of the Americas.

Quick Tips:

  • Leave your big backpack in Copacabana and take only a small day pack to Isla del Sol with the items you will need for the next two days. Remember Lake Titicaca is at nearly 4000-metres above sea level and trekking is hard work at that altitude.
  • You can organize this trip on your own with a little planning. Take a bus from La Paz to Copacabana and then take the ferry to the north part of the Isla del Sol. Then hike down to the south side and find a room at a hostel or guesthouse. Remember to walk slowly and rest often. The best time of year to visit is during dry season from May to September. The worst time is from November to February during rainy season.

Source: Le Belle Tour