Lake Titicaca, highest navigable lake in the world

Trip Start Apr 12, 2011
Trip End Apr 01, 2012

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Saturday, July 16, 2011

The journey towards Lake Titicaca is fine until we come to the ferry across a small port on the lake – the passengers go on one small boat while the buses come across on a very basic looking barge (or more like a poorly constructed wooden raft), let's just say we were very glad when the bus got onto dry land again, given that it had all of our belongings on it. On the other side of the water there is yet another parade and the Bolivian navy are out on display (this is the navy that doesn’t have access to the sea as Bolivia is landlocked – very touchy subject with Chile). 

When we arrive in Copacabana we head to our hostel, Hostel Cupula as Jon and Jo have booked a room for us there.  When we arrive, we are told that are room isn’t ready as the person hasn’t checked out yet but they do have a much more expensive suite available.  We’re pretty sure that this is a game but then again could be down to total lack of organisation that is pretty common here.  We hold out for our room but eventually fold when he comes back to us with a slightly more expensive room than first reserved – I’m sure we have to get used to these games but so far everyone has been very upfront with us in S. America.  The hostel is nice with views over the lake and town and its own restaurant which is very popular.

We take a wander around Copacabana and up to the view points over the town which seems to be points for people to get things blessed and offer gifts to Pachamama.  We did originally think that weddings must have been blessed up here as there were a lot of decorated cars but they were actually blessing the cars (someone should maybe tell them that there would be less problems on the road if they didn’t drink drive, never mind blessing the cars).  At the top of the hills there were tens of stalls selling toy cars and houses – the houses had jobs written on them and so I presume you can get your house blessed as well. Interesting to see how this ties in with the Catholic religion as there were also crosses on the way up the hill which they would throw stones at (more like an offering than just throwing stones). 

Back into town we bump into Jon and Jo and a couple they had met Jo and Garry, we head for a drink together and end up spending the next three days together.  We have dinner at the hostel, and opt for the trout dishes which are pretty good even if the service is a bit slow.  When you see the kitchen you understand why!

Next day we are up early to get the boat to Isla Del Sol.  According to Inca tradition this was thought to be the birthplace of the sun and so I think we were all expecting big things.  The island itself isn’t spectacular but the views from it are, beaches, snow capped mountains and a very peaceful lake.  And when you think that this lake is 4000m up and in a very dry part of the country, it is pretty amazing.  We start at the north end of the island and walk up to the Inca ruins that include a ceremonial table, the stone maze of walls and also a view point over the north side of the island – it’s not an easy trek due to the altitude and hills so we need to take plenty breaks .  We then head to the south side of the island to find somewhere to stay for the night.  We get there about 4pm and feel like we deserve a beer in the sun after all our hard work – we just have to find somewhere to stay first.  After asking at a couple hostels we realise that there is some price fixing going on so after much debate we choose a hostel which has some tables in the sun.  As we haven’t eaten all day, we are pretty keen for dinner.  We head to one of the restaurants close by to ask if they do pizza, she doesn’t but her sister does and she takes us to her restaurant.  As we are following her through the forest in the dark, we’re beginning to think that this isn’t a great idea but we arrive to a busy cosy candle-lit restaurant overlooking the bay.  When we enter we’re told that there is no menu as the waiter (who is probably the owner and chef) wants the restaurant like eating with family.  Also, he has no electricity. So we choose our dishes and wait, and wait, and wait.  3 hours later we get some fresh hot bread, after requesting it.  Another 15 minutes later and we finally get our main courses – the food was good but probably not worth the wait.  We then have several attempts to get the waiter to give us the bill rather than chat to other tables – all in all we were not happy people!  The experience may have scarred our view on Bolivia!

The next day we walk to the ruins on the south side of the island which was a former Inca palace – it’s pretty hot and so we spend the rest of the morning looking out onto the lake, enjoying the sunshine.  Our final stop is the Inca stairs, under which a stream runs.  From listening in to one of the tour guides, legend claims that the water is never-ending and they don’t know where it comes from as it’s fresh water while the lake has minerals and salt in it.  Therefore the stream is meant to provide everlasting youth.  The inca steps run right down to the dock where we got a boat back to Copacabana.  For our last night in Copacabana, we all cooked a big meal together and watched some films, which was good for a change and only half because we were running out of money and there wasn’t a cash machine in Copacabana. 

The next day we took the bus to Peru across the troubled border that had been closed for a few weeks earlier in the month – however we passed through to Puno without any problems.  Jonny and I had a very brief visit to Puno which seemed pleasant enough, set on the lake, and we managed to watch Peru crash out of the Copa America while the other guys decided to stay another day to visit the floating islands.  Next day a 7 hour bus to Cusco to acclimatise before the big trek to Machu Picchu.    
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