The Crouching Puma (by MAPG)

Trip Start Aug 11, 2009
Trip End Feb 19, 2010

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Flag of Bolivia  ,
Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Back to La Paz and with only four days of Bolivian visa left, we headed for Copacabana. Located on the west bank of the Titicaca Lake, Copacabana is Bolivia's gateway to the lake and also the crossing point to Peru. People passing through should allocate at least one day for a visit to Isla del Sol.

Our fascination about Lake Titicaca began when seeing its location on the map. Situated at 4000 m, this 10,000 sq km big fresh water lake is also believed to be the birth place of the Inca civilization. The name literally means "sitting puma" and this image - although it requires an exercise of imagination - can be viewed on the northern tip of Isla del Sol. The island itself, a 10 km long rocky strip of land just two hours away from Copacabana, is a great way to discover the lake. It is home of some archaeological sites, but nothing as fascinating as the landscape on and around it. Whether it is the amazingly carved surface of the island, the lake stretching into the horizon, or the snow capped peaks of the Andes, the temptation to grab the camera every 10 seconds is huge. Crossing the island from North to South took us about two and a half hours, and offered the best views on both island and surroundings. The three communities living there ask for their share of the tourist experience. Although it is annoying to be asked for money for no services, it is understandable when looking at the dry and rocky soil of the island. Tourism is most likely the only real source of income and this potential is wonderfully exploited on the southern tip. This part is crowded with beautiful residences offering stunning views on the lake and making a night stay definitely worth!

On our way back to Copacabana we stopped to visit a small community apparently living on floating islands. Don’t expect too much, as you will only encounter an old man asking for money for granting access to the island. The latter is as big as my living room. For the real thing one has to go to Puno in Peru.

This last piece of Bolivian ingenuity did not change our overall impression of the country. It is a place of extraordinary beauty and if it was not for the time constraint we would have gladly spent more time there. The people are friendly enough if you consider their wealth, and the little tricks intended to make gringos spend more are symbolic if you think in absolute figures.
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