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Saturday, 17 May 2014

Copacabana / Lake Titicaca / Isla del Sol, Bolivia

13/05/2014

This morning Dylan and I woke up pretty hungover following his birthday celebrations the night before. We quickly ate an Irish breakfast, as you do, before getting the bus to the beautiful Lake Titicaca. Lake Titicaca is the world's largest high-altitude lake (8400 sq km) at 3808m. Copacabana (Copa) lays nestled between two hills, which work out as great look out points across the lake and Copa.

We arrive in Copa at 5pm and check into the Hotel Mirador for only 40 bolivianos (£3.50) a night. We get two double beds and en suite - a real treat for travellers. 


This was the view from our shore-side window:


We then scrambled up the main hill to catch the last of the day's sun and a view of the tiny town of Copa.



After sunset we went back to the hotel to shower and change before going to a recommended restaurant, La Cupula, tucked away at the top of the town. I had the very decent local trucha criolla (Rainbow Trout) with mashed potato and quinoa salad. Dylan went for lasagne. 


Afterwards we went back and got to bed early. 

14/05/2014

Today we woke up at 7 for breakfast and headed to the main street, 6 de Agosto, to find a good price on boat tickets to Isla del Sol. We managed to get them down to 50 bolivianos but the lady at the boat said we didn't pay enough and had to pay an additional 20. Either way 35 each (£3) for probably 6 hours of boating isn't bad. We left at 8:30 and arrived at the north of the island at 11. 

Isla del Sol is a large 70 sq km island that lies just inside the Bolivian border. It's mainly a tourist place with various pre-Colombian ruins, most famously noted - the Chincana Ruins. This is where we hiked to first but the ruins weren't massively impressive.


We then spent 4 hours hiking up and down towards the South of the island where we'd pick up the boat back to Copacabana. Many say that Isla del Sol is the highlight of Bolivia and although stunning, doesn't beat the salt flats and the Amazon. Isla del Sol can only be described as Mediterranean. We had to pay about 30 bolivianos in bullshit taxes but there wasn't much we could do about it. The hike was more strenuous than we had first thought reaching just over 4000m and ended up with a bit of sun burn. This is when we realised just how big the lake is. Even from this elevation you can only see odd distant mountains and for the other part the horizon. From 0m (in this case 3808m) you can see 10 miles to the horizon (height dependent), so at 4000m+ it's a very long way to the horizon. It's basically a sea. 

We caught the 3:30pm boat back, then power napped for an hour and went to have dinner with our last 90 bolivianos. We somehow managed to bump into Esther and Judith from the salt flats so had dinner with them. Bed fairly early again as we have a long day tomorrow taking two buses from Copacabana to Puno (Peru), then another from Puno to Arequipa - roughly 12 hours of travel.





My overall round-up of Bolivia is that it's a really amazing place. With such a variety of climates and activities it has gone to my number 1 country so far, beating New Zealand. Although the majority of the time it's pretty chaotic with the locals hustling and bustling, it somehow works. Sort of an organised mess. Everyone has mentioned how cheap it is but we really haven't found that. Although relatively cheap to the UK, the touristic areas abuse the tourists. For instance a can of beer from a small corner shop works out at £1, but you'd pay the same back home, if not less. I'm sure locals pay much less but there isn't much us tourists can do!

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