Lake Titicaca is referred to as to as the birthplace of the Inca civilization. This was the first area to domesticate llamas and alpacas in Pre-Inca times and the Incas believed that Isla del Sol was the birthplace of their culture.
Travel- it’s the people you meet
I had met a charming English family (the Clydes) the day before. They were travelling the world as a family and they had loved Vietnam, so we quickly found a lot in common. By coincidence, they were also taking the same Bolivia Hop bus to Copacabana, the town on Lake Titicaca that lent its name to a lesser known beach in Brazil.
We arranged to have breakfast around 6 am to be ready for the early bus that would collect us at our hotel. After a short wait the bus arrived, so we were soon climbing out of the valley towards La Paz´s ugly sister, El Alto. We stopped there for a quick bathroom break and it was indeed dusty and grim.
Lonely Planet had spoken of a beautiful trip, but that beauty was certainly not to be found in El Alto.
Reaching Lake Titicaca
The journey continued and the scenery became more spectacular as we finally reached the lake. We stopped in one particular spot where snow-capped peaks provided a dramatic backdrop. As we reboarded the bus assistant warned us to have our passports ready as we would be stopping in the village that was home to the Bolivian Navy. Judging by the few small boats tied up at the pier, it is safe to say that Bolivia is not one of South America´s most feared naval powers.
Crossing Lake Titicaca
Strange happenings were yet to unfold. Not only would we be packed into small boats to cross, but our bus would also cross this section of the lake by raft. It felt somewhat unreal to look out from amid the diesel fumes and see our bus bobbing along on a raft behind us! Travel in South America can certainly be a tale of the unexpected at times.
The real Copacabana
Our first view of Copacabana was far from promising. Worse still, when the bus stopped to let us off, there seemed to be a big hole in the middle of the road. I made my way to my hostel, La Cupola, which is perched on the hill behind the town. The climb to the hostel was steep, but it was worth it in the end. Alpacas roamed freely amongst the hammocks in the garden. Slowly, this place was beginning to grow on me. In the evening, I had dinner at the restaurant in the hostel. The cheese fondue was sumptuous and the pancake with ice cream was even more delicious.
The best views of Lake Titicaca
The following day, I met up with the Clydes. We all had the idea to walk to the top of Calvary Hill to get sunset views over Lake Titicaca. According to the Lonely Planet, the traveller´s bible, this walk takes a mere thirty minutes. This is maybe the case if you have spent weeks at altitude or if you have just arrived from the Inca Trail in Peru.
Some of us made heavy work of this climb! I needed to stop to catch my breath at practically every one of the fourteen crosses on the way up. Indeed, I am sure that I more than earned my place in paradise. Despite the hard climb, the view from the top was heavenly. From the highest point, visitors gain magical views of the lake in the changing light of the late afternoon. At one point I spotted a condor gliding on a warm air current above the lake. How I wished I had one of those professional cameras! The trek down the hill was easier than the climb. There is a God!
A final word on Lake Titicaca
My original route would have taken me to Potosi and Uyuni. However, I was glad that I had come to Lake Titicaca. Meeting the Clydes opened me up to a whole range of travel destinations for me. The lake has a magic all of its own and the town is a charming and relaxing place to unwind with good cheap food. If only it had functional Wifi connections, it would truly be a piece of paradise on earth. The Amazon would be the next stop if everything went to plan. Things going to plan was never guaranteed on my trip to Bolivia.
Find out more on the Lake Titicaca Destination Information Page