Eventually we decided to interrupt our short vacation in Copacabana / Bolivia, take a boat to Isla del Sol and trek the island from north to south. After a two hour boat trip from Copacabana, we got off in Cha’llapampa at the northern tip of the island and asked a local guide to show us the sights of that area. This included the Pre-Inca ruins of Chincana, the Mesa Ceremonial, which was used for sacrifices but where now a local “Shaman” treats people, and Titi Khar’ka or Rock of the Puma, which gave the lake its name. With the help of Faustino, our guide, and a lot of imagination, we also identified the “Cara de Viracocha” and the “Refugio del Sol” in that rock.
After saying good bye to Faustino we walked the three hours south to the small village of Yumani. The walk is very scenic with the Bolivian shore to your left and the Peruvian to your right. When you look north there is nothing but water, like an endless ocean. It is actually only a seven kilometres walk, but at that altitude, up to 4.075 meters above sea level, the air is very thin. So we had to walk very slowly not to run out of breath.
Very few people did this trek and only towards the end we met a Columbian, an Iranian and German lady and together we started looking for a room for the night in Yumani. We tried lots of places, paying particular attention to the temperature in the room and were extremely lucky to find Posada Isla del Sol, no sign indicating its existence, hidden behind the island’s only Internet Café.
From experience we knew that a tin roof means freezing cold nights. This place was a modern adobe building, nicely painted inside and outside with a copula in each room that each had six tiny round glass openings. We chose the room that was still full of sun at 05:00 pm and after coming back from an adventurous dinner, the room was still really warm. It seems as if the copula collects the heat and keeps the room warm, genial idea!
We had dinner in a little place with a view to make you weep, to say the sunset was spectacular does not do it justice. The reason we went into that place was because it had a pizza oven and from experience this usually means a warm place. Once we sat down, naturally ordering pizza to keep that oven going, more people kept coming in, the usual phenomenon: if there are people in there it must be good, especially since most places around were empty. We also strongly believe that the very fact that we closed the door of the restaurant made it so much more attractive: who wants to be in a place with its doors wide open at 3.900 meters above sea level, which means freezing temperatures at night? We have concluded it must be a cultural thing to leave doors and windows wide open despite the extreme cold.
Well, it turned out that this crowd was quite a challenge for the family who runs the restaurant, more people from the neighbourhood had to be called to help with the cooking and after two hours we were able to enjoy our pizza. Since we were exchanging travel stories with Catherine, the German lady we had met, we were more patient as we would usually are.
On the next day, after a long breakfast, we walked down the “Inca Stairs” or “Escalera Del Inca” to the port, rather unspectacular. The boat that took us back to Copacabana was small and only had one engine, which made the trip a bit tedious.