Hiking Sun Island

Published: March 9th 2014
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After the best night's sleep I have had on this trip, I woke up in time to enjoy some breakfast. True, my day was almost ruined when the only coffee available was instant, but Traveler Brendan stepped in and sternly lectured Pamper Brendan. We all came to agreement that part of traveling is leaving home behind and stepping out of our comfort zone. Ok, so I may have exaggerated this just a bit, since the coffee really wasn't even a blip on my radar, but I did think that it made for a good dramatic intro to the blog.

After a nice breakfast, Sylvia and I walked to the lake to board a small boat for the hour trip to Sun Island. It was once again a beautiful day. I cannot get over how vibrant the colors are here. The sky is the deepest blue and you know how I feel about the clouds here. They were out in force today to accompany me to the island. It was most enjoyable sitting in the boat watching the lake, mountains and other boats. We stopped at one port to leave our luggage so that we wouldn’t have to carry it all
Port, Boat, CloudsPort, Boat, CloudsPort, Boat, Clouds

It was just too beautiful.
day. What a relief that was. I really did pack light, but the thought of lugging it for 4 to 5 hours along with my box lunch, waters, sunscreen, coat and camera was not as appealing as it may sound.

Once we reached our port we stopped at a small museum. Apparently there was a sub aquatic expedition in the late 70’s arranged by Jacques Cousteau that discovered many artifacts under the water around the island. Nobody knows how they got there, but there were many gold figures, carved rock sculpture and pottery. For a person who loves lost things, this was very interesting. I could imagine Sun Island as part of Atlantis. Well, not for real, but it was fun to imagine.

We started hiking on a sandy beach on the North end of the island and gradually worked our way up, up, up until we had some of the most amazing views ever. As we walked, we saw many fields of Lima beans, corn, potatoes and quinoa. We passed many sheep and a few pigs, but they were too busy to chat so we left them to their grazing. Across the lake we could see the shiny roofs of Puno, Peru. After a good while we came to the La Chincana ruins. They are also called the Labyrinth Ruins because there are built as a maze. The stone work was very reminiscent of Machu Picchu, but these ruins predate those. They built alcoves where they could hide behind rocks so they could not be seen. I’m not sure how they would get the rocks in front of them, but I do know that I was way too big to have hidden in there at all.

Although the day was magnificent, the island was not crowded at all. We saw some people, but for the most part were able to walk along at our own pace. This was a good thing because at this elevation I was huffing and puffing like a bad dog. Since the point of the day was in fact the hike, I didn’t see any need to rush things. When I felt like it I would pull up my camera, stop and make a big show of taking some pictures while in fact I was just too pooped to go on. It worked swimmingly the first few times, but after that I think Sylvia was on to me. Heck, it was all good. She told me history of the island and interesting stories. We did slather on sunscreen, but my neck burned a bit. I knew it would be hot and sunny, so I did the unthinkable and wore a baseball hat. Honestly, I would rather have done the hike in a powder blue leisure suit than wear a hat (yes I hate hats that much) but I had to weigh vanity against a crispy, fried scalp. Looking back I think I made the right choice, especially since I left my powder blue leisure suit at home.

After climbing up more stone steps than I could imagine we were finally at the highest point of the hike. It was a perfect place to stop and have our box lunches. We found a quiet field with the most incredible view and plopped down on our coats for a box lunch feast. It was actually pretty good. The thing that really stuck out in my mind was how absolutely quiet it was. Unless the dogs were barking or the sheep bleating it was silent. I could hear the wind blow. What a change that was from life in a city. Mostly we sat and ate without talking so we could enjoy the silence. A flock of sheep started grazing closer and closer to us until I could reach out and touch one. They had no fear of us, but boy when the dog barked and started chasing them they took off in a hurry. It was nice and calm sitting there in the pasture eating. This was what today was all about- slowing down and enjoying Sun Island with no stress or rush to get something done or somewhere fast.

The hike took about 4 ½ hours. It was a respectable time, meaning that I wasn’t as slow as I thought I might be. We arrived at my hotel on the South side of the island where each room is a cabin. The only heat is provided by a small room painted black with a plastic roof to catch and hold the heat. I wasn’t overwhelmed with it, but the huge, fluffy goose down comforter more than made up for it. I posted a picture of the sign in the bathroom asking guests to not waste water. All of the water for the whole hotel is brought up the steep stone walk from a spring close to the lake. Mules, donkeys and llamas are used to bring water up in plastic tubs. It boggled my mind how many trips it must take to keep a hotel functioning. Needless to say I did not take a long, hot steamy shower to soak out my muscles. I wanted to, but the guilt would have been too much. I really liked this hotel. The one last night was beautiful while this one was more craftsman and artsy.

Dinner was the most wonderful quinoa soup ever! I ate every last bite and would have picked the bowl up to lick if there weren’t other people in the room. My dinner was lake trout, which was very good, but I just couldn’t eat much of it. I skipped dessert and went back to the room to read a bit. Towards night a storm came roaring across the lake. There was thunder, lightning, hail, rain and wind. The bathroom roof was a thick plastic panel, meaning the hail was incredibly loud. As I tossed and turned trying to sleep I kept thinking of how fortunate I was that the rain came in the night and not during the day. Part of me was thinking how I was going to make the hike down the stone steps to the port in the morning if it was raining. Grace and balance have never been associated with me, so I had visions of going ass over tea kettle down the steps, camera flying, Sylvia laughing. Fortunately the storm passed during the night and today was sunny and beautiful again.

I woke to the sounds of donkeys braying. What a nice sound that was to wake up to. After a nice breakfast we walked down to the port, admiring the new snow on the mountains in the distance. Our boat was there to pick us up for the ride back. The lake was angry today and the boat rocked much more than it had the previous day. Back in Copacabana we went to the hotel for lunch before catching a shared bus back to La Paz. This bus was much larger than the day before. When we had to be ferried across the lake, we all had to exit the bus and take a motor boat across to wait for
What a ViewWhat a ViewWhat a View

The colors were larger than life.
the bus. As luck would have it the Carnival dancers started their parade just as our bus was ready to pick us up. I stood and watched the flamboyantly dressed dancers strut their stuff down the street. It was fun to watch how much they were enjoying themselves. The ride home was long and slow with much traffic and many more Carnival parades marching down the busy road. Traffic in El Alto City and La Paz was torturous. It was a huge relief to finally reach the hotel.

Dinner was a pizza in a shop down the street. While I was waiting for the pizza I sat and watched the Saturday night crowds pass by the restaurant. The scenery was much better than the pizza. Now I am all packed and ready for a 4AM pick up to the airport. I may be offline for a few days, so please don’t’ wonder where I went. I will be back before you know it.

Additional photos below
Photos: 31, Displayed: 28


La Chincana Temple 3La Chincana Temple 3
La Chincana Temple 3

They built these alcoves in which to hide behind rocks in case of attack. I think I may be a little too tall to effectively hide in there.
Baby LambBaby Lamb
Baby Lamb

I saw lots of sheep and some pigs grazing along the hillside.
More ViewMore View
More View

The vibrant colors continued to enthrall me.
Are You Fricken' Kidding Me?Are You Fricken' Kidding Me?
Are You Fricken' Kidding Me?

I thought we had already reached the top, but up the stairs went.

9th March 2014

What a gift!!!
You are a gift to all of us that you bring along on your adventures. I am so glad you are having a great time. I miss you!!! Things are great here and I will check on your home again this week, with the right keys!! Love and miss you and know I continue to pray for a safe and amazing journey for you! Talk to you in a couple of days!!!
11th March 2014

Thank you Janie
I think the gift is mine that I am able to have so many people along on my trips with me. I love reading the comments and knowing that I may help paint a small picture of the world for them. Can't wait to catch up with you.
9th March 2014

First, no Lola. Then Barry Manilow. Now a blue leisure suit??
Sorry....couldn't resist. Looks like you are drinking in all the color and majesty of a beautiful venue. Carry on, Sir!! Best, Dave
9th March 2014
Port, Boat, Clouds

Good Recovery!
So glad you were able to throw off the altitude sickness, do that great hike with its amazing views and enjoy the quinoa soup. Since the trout is farmed in the polluted lake, probably best you didn't eat it anyway. Your guide, Sylvia, sounds like a gem--how nice to have her for so many days together. Enjoy Uyuni, and I'll see you soon!
11th March 2014
Port, Boat, Clouds

Luck has been with me
Thanks Tara. I am so grateful that I was feeling better by the Sun Island hike. It was more than I had expected it to be. (of course I had no real idea what I was going to be doing.) All my tours have been nice, so I am hoping our trip Thursday will be as well. Looking forward to seeing you.
9th March 2014

Great pictures....looks like you are having a great time! Love the quinoa soup! Looks yummy! Safe travels!
9th March 2014

Oreos! :D
11th March 2014

Oh yeah!
And you know I ate each of those Oreos!
10th March 2014

cloud watching...
...one of my favourite summer activities! did you see the baby dragon in your 'Are You Fricken' Kidding Me?' photo? :)
11th March 2014

Wow, I didn't but do now.
Great catch. I didn't even catch that. I do love clouds. My high school English teacher wrote me that she sat in front of the computer and visualized walking up those steps and into the clouds.
10th March 2014
What a View Again

What a view
There's something about the colours and mountain views that make one feel alive...clearly you are alive and well. Enjoy.
12th March 2014
What a View Again

What a view is right
Thank you Dave, Each direction I turned I found a new and even more beautiful view. Days like this do make me feel alive and fortunate to be able to seek out views like this.
10th March 2014

Work for water
Hi B, loving the pictures so far. What a beautiful area to vacation in. If all the hiking was downhill I may be able to keep up. That uphill stuff is just not for me. Bet if they made the guests that used too much water bring up a couple of bucket fulls they wouldn't use near as much the next time. Have a great time and keep on blogging! Ted
15th March 2014

Going with the flow
Travel does test your flexibility when they toss instant coffee your way. Your hike sounds good. I guess I have to remind Dave to log in before sending you a message.
15th March 2014

When he said Lola, I knew
I have gotten used to the instant coffee. Now in Santiago, there seems to be better coffee. That helps keep me going.
6th May 2014

That sky!
Wow, such a gorgeous blue sky and those incredible clouds. Did you get much of a sunset/sunrise with the storm?
6th May 2014

Unfortunately I didn't see either the sunrise or sunset, but certainly loved the color of the sky. What I did get to see was some incredible lightening flashes across the lake and even more when the storm crossed over to the island.

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