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Published: September 15th 2013
It was only a 3 hour bus ride from La Paz to the lake-side town of Copacana. Passing through the Northern neighbourhood of La Paz, El Alto, was an interesting experience. A relatively poor, bustling area of the town. Judging by the time it must have been rush hour. It just felt like a sea of people, stalls and vehicles, all fighting for their space on the dusty streets.
We stayed in Copacabana for 2 nights at a really nice hostel, quite big but they made us feel very welcome. They had a constant supply of free fresh fruit which was a nice touch. The town itself was touristy with people on the streets trying to get you into their restuarant, bar etc. We didn´t let that dishearten us as we knew it wasn´t the main reason why we were there. The main reason being the beautiful lake Titicaca. Often touted as the highest navigatable lake in the world at 3,812m above sea level.
We got there early afternoon and decided to explore the town. To the right of the town is a hill called Cerro Calvario, it stands at 3,966m high. After a steep incline, with multiple rest
stops, we reached the top for a fantastic panoramic view of Copacabana and the surrounding bay, landscape and the lake. Also at the top of the hill was a Catholic shrine, with what looked like religious ceremonies going on. You could see where things had been burnt and basic drawings of cars, houses and money had been made in wax. After a little investigation on the internet, we confirmed these rites were to ask for health, wealth and sucess. But they were also to honour the dead. These are traditional rites that pre-date Catholicism, which is strange considering it was taking place on a Catholic shrine. But that´s one thing we have learnt about Bolivia, although it´s classed as a Catholic country, the Catholic Church and it´s previous culture / belief system are both acknowledged and practised in many ways.
The next morning we were up early for our trek on Isla del Sol. After about a 1 and 1/2 hour boat ride, we reached the northern side of the island. The trek was about 8km in total and took us about 6 hours, we took a lot of pictures and enjoyed the sceneary too much to go at
a decent pace. It was tough going at some points, the altitude definitely takes it out of you! That´s my excuse and I´m sticking to it!. The landscape was amazing, so so beautiful!! The Isla del Sol is where, according to Inca religion, the sun god was born as well as the stars and moon. Jen was feeling particularly spiritual all day here and to be honest being on the island, which is on such a huge lake, this high up was quite overwhelming and special. We could not get over how much space was around us and how clear and blue the sky was. Eating your sandwiches, made the previous night, with such wonderful surroundings was a great experience. The town we were to get picked up at was also really picturesque, set on steep sided hills but against the dry climate, it was very green. This was due to the natural spring it had running down the centre. There were donkeys-a-plenty here too, work donkeys by the looks of it. But it was good to see them enjoy a refreshing drink from the lake after a long days graft.
I think we took a bit too long
on the trek and the reason why I say this, well infact know this is because we missed our boat back! We missed it by about 30 minutes! Opps. We asked a local guy, in our pigeon Spanish, when the next boat is to be told the next morning. Oh dear. But for an undisclosed amount, he would take us back in his boat. We umm´d and rrrrr´d, then haggled a little and the next thing you know, we had chartered our own private boat to take us back to Copacabana. It wasn´t all bad as we saw an amazing sunset on the ride back, one we wouldn´t have been able to see if we had caught our scheduled boat back. For Jen it was "The best sunset she´d ever seen........ ever!" The perfect end to a perfect day.
After a night of rest we were back on the bus to La Paz!
Things we´d learnt from Lake Titicaca,
1) Always make sure you understand the timings and instructions on organised trips.
2) Clouds really do have a silver lining (when there´s a great sunset behind them).
3) Chartering your own boat is fun!
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