Isla del Sol, a small gem on the Titicaca Lake
With its deep blue color, the Titicaca lake and its small island Isla del Sol were a perfect first stop in Bolivia. If you are looking for thrills or a big city, this place is not for you. But if you want to spend a few hours in a beautiful and relaxing place, Isla del Sol might be exactly what you need.
After leaving Cusco by night bus, we got out of the bus around 09:00am as we were at the Bolivian border. After getting our passport stamped, we went back into the bus for another 30 minutes before reaching Copacabana. This little city is located on the eastern side of the Titicaca lake and offers many restaurants and hotels. But more importantly – and the reason why we went there – it serves as a harbor for smalls boats leaving to Copacabana twice a day for Isla del Sol.
So at 01:30pm, after (a bad) lunch, we climbed into a boat and spent around an hour enjoying beautiful views of the lake before arriving at our destination. Once there, we had to pay 10 BOB/person to access the island and stood directly in front of a huge stair.
The main village as well as most of the hotels and restaurants are located at the top of the island, which means you have to go up about 300m to access them. Now, this might look like nothing BUT we had our huge backpacks with us AND the lake is located at almost 4000m. Let’s just say that it took us a while to make the climb 😉 If you spent a night in Copacabana, it might be a good idea to ask your hotel if you can leave your luggage there and take only what you need for the day.
There are a couple of hostels close to the beach, but of course, they are more expensive. Moreover, you don’t get the beautiful views on the lake that you have when you choose a hotel located higher on the island. So we would advise you to take the time to go up a little, even if you don’t go until the village.
A conflict between the South and the North?
Our plan on the island was the following: resting, walking around and eating a trout on a terrace in front of the lake. We managed the resting and eating quite good – we even enjoyed an impressive lightning storm on the lake during the night on our terrace as we were eating our dinner.
Regarding the walking, it was slightly more complicated. Indeed, our original plan was to walk from the South part to the village on the North of Isla del Sol. However, our plan failed as the locals told us that going to the North of the island was currently forbidden. If you try to go a little bit further than one third of the island in the north direction, locals will stop you and ask you nicely – but firmly – to turn around. So instead, we went to the Mirador in the afternoon and admired from there the view on the lake.
On the next day, we went around the south part of Isla del Sol at a very relaxed pace. The island itself is really beautiful, but its location is even more stunning. The Titicaca lake is so gigantic that it almost looks like you are looking at the sea. The surrounding white mountains offer an amazing contrast to the blue of the sky and the lake. Located at 4000m above sea level, the Titicaca lake is often described as the “highest navigable lake in the world”.
Stay only one day or spend a night on the island?
Well, that depends of course on your time but also on when you manage to catch a boat. If you arrive in Copacabana from Cusco by night bus, you won’t get the boat at 08:00am, which means that you have to take the one at 01:30pm. As you will arrive around 02:00pm on Isla del Sol, it would not make a lot of sense to return with the boat at 03:00pm or 05:00pm… In this case, stay for the night on the island, you won’t regret it. You will be able to enjoy the sunset in a restaurant with a stunning view on the lake and the mountains in the background, as well as a good trout in your plate 😉
However, if you arrive early in the morning on the island and you get the full day there, I would say it is enough to get a good impression of the island and walk everywhere it is allowed – as the North part is not accessible at the moment. I believe it is probably worth hiking to the North side though, so you might want to check if the situation has changed…
If you want to see all our pictures from the Titicaca lake, click here.
Getting to Isla del Sol
From Cusco, we took a night bus with the Titicaca company for 70 soles/person (cama seats) to Copacabana. We arrived around 11:00am local time – be careful, there is one hour time difference between Peru and Bolivia.
Do not mix up Cabanaconde, the entry for the Colca Canyon hike, and Copacabana when reserving bus tickets 😛
In Copacabana, you can book a boat ride for the South part of Isla del Sol either at 08:00am or at 01:30pm. It will cost you 20 BOB and take you around 1 hour to go to the island. When you arrive at the island, you will have to pay an entry fee of 10 BOB/person to access the island.
Where to sleep
We stayed at the hostel Las Cabanas and paid 100 BOB for a double room with private bathroom and breakfast. We had internet only from the terrace – with a wonderful view on the lake 😉 the room was clean and the breakfast good – all in all, one of the best price/relationship we had in Bolivia regarding accommodations!