The island of the Sun (La Isla del Sol) is the most sacred place and the birthplace of the sun god and the Incas. According to the myths, it was here where the god Viracocha commanded the Sun and Moon to rise from the waters.Thus he became Sun God as well as Storm God. He then created the first human beings, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo and instructed them to educate the world.
This quiet little island sits in the middle of Lake Titikaka (the highest large lake in the world at 3800m above sea level), and is filled with Inca Ruins. It’s a perfect start for following the Inca’s footsteps if you are one of those Inca Groupies like us fascinated by their story.
Isla del Sol is only accessible by boat from the nearby town Copacabana. Once you get to its shore, it’s impossible not to like its peaceful atmosphere and habitants. This place is one of those places that I overworked my camera, awe-inspired by its charm so it’s best to tell our story in pictures once again…
Most people go for a day tour starting in Yumani on the south of the island and hike up to north to Challapampa to catch an afternoon boat back to Copacabana. Instead, we opted for an overnight stay at a gorgeous eco hostel on a remote part perched on a hillside in Yumani and made our way up to Chincana ruins in Challapampa the next morning.
We strongly advise you to leave your big luggages back in a hotel in Copacabana and only take a daypack when you visit Isla del Sol as it’s a steep walk everywhere you go around the island, also the high altitude makes every step harder. Trust me on this.
It was all worth the hike when we walked in to our room though…
After being offered a refreshing lemonade at the eco lodge, we took another mission and hiked up a little more to where we were told to have the best views of the island while watching the sun go down.
We started early next morning to avoid the crowds at the Chincani ruins north side of the island. Despite the thin air and high altitude, Inca road leading to the ruins is a beautiful walk. We passed and said hello to some village people, enjoyed some breathtaking views and took zillions of pictures of this gorgeous island which has a beautiful energy surrounding it.
Chincana Ruins (Palacio del Inca)
The island’s most spectacular spot for us is where we entered Palacio del Inca, a maze of stone walls and doorways. This little complex of ruins is situated near to the Roca Sagrada, or Sacred Rock, where, according to the legend, Wiracocha appeared and created the sun, moon and earth and created Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, the first Incas who founded the empire. Since we arrived early enough just before the crowds, we had this remarkable complex to ourselves for a short while, imagining what it would be like if we had lived in those times.
Leaving the ruins, we made our way back to Challapampa village to catch our boat to Copacabana.
Being the main connection port for Isla del Sol, Copacabana gets very touristy at times but if you pass beyond that it’s a little gem with its laid back and very friendly residents. We extended our stay for two more days enjoying the slow pace of life and the watching colors change beautifully while the sun goes down.
Copacabana was a perfect end to our Bolivian adventure. I must admit Bolivia has been one hell of a ride throwing many challenges at us including high altitude sickness, dangerous roads and the cold but this is the only country so far that we felt that it is a land of superlatives and paradoxes being the poorest country in South america but the richest on the continent in natural resources. Between distances, you go through the driest, windiest, coldest, warmest and swampiest spots which adds to the reason why this country fascinated us so much. The Bolivian population has the highest percentage of indigenous heritage (over 70% of the population) including Aymara, Quechua, Guarani cultures to name a few. They are a very proud country for who they are and have a distinct attitude towards capitalism and all its aspects. People help each other with big hearts, there is not one big supermarket chain or MCDonalds in the country which is something I personally admire. I strongly recommend everyone who are considering travelling to South America to put Bolivia on their list. It won’t disappoint I promise you.
Tomorrow, we cross borders to start our adventures in Peru.