Copacabana & Isla del Sol (Lake Titicaca)
Trip Start Apr 10, 2012
31Trip End Apr 06, 2013
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The border control people look very mean and intimidating but we sailed through the Peruvian side with no problems
We arrived in Copacabana 20 minutes later and in general it was a bit like Peru but you can tell the people are poorer in Bolivia. We got off the bus and retrieved our backpacks (this is always a stressful thing as you never know if they have been stolen by someone!) and headed into a tour/travel agent and booked a boat to Isla Del Sol and a bus ticket to La Paz two days later. We met a girl called Katie from California on the bus from Puno and she was going to join us in our trip to the Island.
We had a couple of hours to kill before our boat left so we headed out for a little explore of the town. It was full of shops selling the usual fabrics, bracelets, charms and leather goods
We bought some snacks and a drink for the boat and headed down to the lake. It was a bit confusing as there were lots of boats and lots of tourists but we eventually found our boat. It was a small motor boat and it seemed that the amount of people queuing couldn't possibly all fit on the boat but they did! It seemed there was no space for AK, SJ and Katie as a few 'older' Australian ladies had decided to take up a lot of space on the benches with their bags and did not offer to move them even though they could see people had no where to sit! SJ decided to move their stuff for them and made space for us to sit. With people crammed into the bottom part of the boat and a number of people on the top of the boat we were good to go.
Not long after we set off a group of Brazilian guys decided to roll and light a joint. Now AK & SJ really do not have a problem with people smoking the great green herb but when they are sat next to barrels of diesel on an enclosed boat they thought these people were very stupid. The boat ride was only 1.5 hours, surely they were not that desperate for a smoke that they would risk everyone's lives? The guy driving the boat asked them to put it out and thankfully they did
We arrived at the beautiful Island of the Sun safely and we got off and started to look for a hostel. We were very quickly accosted by several boys of about 9/10 years of age all saying they would take us to a hostel. The hostels they were talking about were high up on the hill and with 15kg backpacks AK, SJ & Katie were not keen. We eventually settled for one a bit closer although we still had to climb a numb of stairs. We paid our Bs5 which is 'for the south island people' and headed up to the hostel.
AK and SJ got a private room and Katie got a dorm which turned out to be private as no one else was staying in the room. The rooms were very basic, no electricity other than a light and definitely no wifi but they were clean if a little on the cold side! The view from our room was amazing. It overlooked the lake and you could see the snow capped mountains in the distance. It was also east facing which meant that the sun came up from behind the mountains and lit up our room in the morning. To get this sort of view else where you would have to pay a lot more than the £7 we paid!
We had decided to hike up to the top of the hill (I say a hill but it is a bloody big hill) to watch the sun set as we had been told there was a viewing point at the top so we set out and started to climb the stairs
We finally reached the lookout point, cracked open our beers and watched the sunset. It was really beautiful and you could see for miles from the top. We got talking to a group of three young Brazilian lads called Marcello, Cesar and Adriano, who were all really nice and friendly and we walked back down the hill with them. AK being a big fan of brazilian football past and present, talked to them all the way back about the beautiful game. They very kindly offered to cook dinner for us back at their hostel, so we chipped in for the ingredients and headed to their hostel. We had a delicious meal of spaghetti with tomato and sardine sauce. It sounds disgusting but actually tasted really good and everyone cleared their plates
After a surprisingly good sleep in the lumpy and bumpy bed, AK and SJ were woken by the sound of the donkeys ee-oreing in the distance. We got up and dressed, brushed our teeth and were outside waiting for Katie in 15 minutes. Once Katie was ready we set off up the dreaded stairs to meet the Brazilian lads. AK walked ahead and SJ and Katie arrived out of breath 10 minutes later. So we all set off for a day of hiking in the sun. After about 20 minutes we came across a gate at which stood two local men to whom we had to pay Bs15 each for 'the people of the north island', record our name in a book and then we were free to proceed. It was another chance for AK to write another fake name and occupation in the record back....small things!
After a couple of hours hiking up and down hills we eventually reached the ruins close to the north part of the Island
We eventually arrived at the beach and SJ was surprised to see little pigs just roaming free (there were also a few tied up with not a lot of space and SJ wanted to set them free). The town seemed very basic and the people quite poor. The beach and the water were beautiful and the boys and Katie decided to take off their shoes and go for a dip, SJ decided against it as the water was icy cold. We took lots of pictures and even got one of AK in a little rowing boat, with his beard he really looked like a boat captain! SJ was pleased that two pigs came trotting by after trying to raid the backpacks of some girls further up the beach. They were a bit boisterous and grunted a lot but as soon as SJ rubbed their back they stopped still in a daze and gave the odd grunt as they relished the mini massage they were getting
We carried on walking down the beach toward the town, through half built houses and other buildings and eventually arrived at a small water front where the boats stopped. There was some public toilets, a little shop selling all kinds of stuff, a street food vender and a 'restaurant'. We decided that although the street food looked nice we were going to eat in style at the restaurant. We all took a seat inside and ordered soup and their specialty which was fish either fried or baked with rice, chips and veggies. The 'restaurant' was just a one woman set up in a small two room building and this coupled with the fact the table cloth was covered in ants made us very nervous about the quality of the food. We had no other options though so we decided to stick it out and hope for the best. We'd decided in the mean time that we would hike the alternative route back, along the beaches, as oppose to getting the boat. When the food arrived though we were very pleasantly surprised. The soup was hot and delicious and fish was fresh and very tasty.
We ate up, paid up, and decided to start out on our hike back as the afternoon was wearing on and we had a fairly big hike ahead of us
Although there were some hills the hike back was fairly easy and as it took us along he coast it was a beautiful walk. There was lots of greenery and we walked through a few little towns and said hi to the locals who were working very hard going about their daily business. It seems that most people are farmers of some kind and as the island is full of hills they must have a very tough life. The donkeys have an even tougher time as they constantly haul huge loads up and down the hills of the island. We all gained a lot of respect for the donkeys as they have a tougher life than the people.
We were all very tired and started to slow down as we approached the check point between the two parts of the island. We showed our slips of paper proving we had paid our dues to both the north and south people of the island (we really did not know how the island survived before tourists as they get a lot of their money from all the visitors) and carried on up past the lookout point....the end was in site and we all felt very relieved
SJ went to the cafe that was part of the hostel and ordered spaghetti with tomato sauce and Katie ordered pizza. When it arrived it was very basic but then we were on a small island and all their supplies arrive by boat. As we were hungry we ate up and paid up and retreated to our rooms to chill. SJ tried the shower but was disappointed to find that they were lukewarm at best. She decided to have an Hokey Cokey shower, you put your left leg in, your left leg out....in out in out.....get the picture? It was a quick body wash as there was no way she was putting her whole body under the freezing cold shower. Later she sorted her back pack, did some blog writing, had a read and was in bed lights out for 10pm.
AK arrived back just after 10 and brushed his teeth and jumped straight into bed
SJ got up, well after sunrise, and after packing our things and meeting up with Kate and the Brazilian guys, we were sat ready and waiting for the boat. while waiting a few of the locals needed help with pushing a boat into the lake, a task which was much harder that what it seemed. AK, Cesar, Adriano and Marcello wasted no time in helping out. After helping out with the boat, it was time for us to board our boat and start the ninety minute journey back to the touristy lake side town of Copacabana.
After arriving in Copacabana, we said our goodbyes to Marcello, Adriano and Cesar, who very kindly offered to put us up if we ever visited Sao Paolo....AK said he would love to take them up on their offer in 2014 when the world cup was being held in Brazil.
We already had our bus tickets booked for La Paz, so we rushed to a restaurant with wifi to book a hostel for that night. Unfortunately the wifi didn't work properly so we had to get on the bus with no hostel for La Paz for that night, a predicament AK and SJ usually tried to avoid. Luckily there was a Australian girl on the bus who we shared a room with in Puno, and briefly seen on Isla del sol the day before. She was heading to a hostel she had found in her lonely planet book, so we decided to go with her after the four hour bus journey.