A twirl, a hike and that Sol

I’ve been thinking about this blog a lot. It’s an unfinished “chapter” of my life. The more I talk to people about our travels, the more I realize that the memories begin to blur, the cities don’t roll of my tongue as easily- and that the longer I wait to write it all down, the less I’ll be able to look back at as the time goes on.

Last summer I left the blog hanging in the middle of Bolivia. It was right at the point where we had to decide between an overnight bus (anywhere from 11-20 hours (con suerte) from Sucre to La Paz or a 1-hour flight —> the flight definitely won. From La Paz we would find our way up to Copacabana, a stop-over point before heading to Isla del Sol.

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So back to BOLIVIA! Where “anything is possible and nothing is certain.”

La Paz CityPhoto credit

Flying into La Paz (actually El Alto) is pretty wild. You fly into the valley where La Paz is located (left picture), do a 360 degree low turn, “twirl” up, head straight towards huge cliffs that hug La Paz, and somehow land onto El Alto (right picture), which is sited on a plateau above the city. And look at those insane mountains!! Triple-peaked Illimani in the background. La Paz is at an elevation of 11,975 ft and is the highest capital in the world- El Alto International Airport is the highest international airport and the second highest commercial airport in the world at 13,325 feet (4,061 meters).

La PazPhoto credit unknown. Plane to taxi to bus station to Copacabana. Just a shit show per usual! We unfortunately did not actually witness the photo above, but it wouldn’t have surprised me.

El Alto to CopacabanaOur bus ride up to Copacabana (was about 8+ hours, not 3 hours as depicted above) included the bus breaking down twice, a kid running off the bus to poop in broad daylight (I mean, he had to go (no bathroom breaks here))- and a phenomenon where a ferry takes the bus across the Strait of Tiquina.

Oh, and finding our hostel/hotel at night in Copacabana- which isn’t the liveliest, safest place. Anyways, it was an adventure- it was South American Type I Fun.

Ferry and BusThere goes the bus. Will we ever see it again with our precious backpacks?

CopacabanaCopacabana on our first night. Lake Titicaca in the morning and our hotel on the right. Clear skies!

Lake TiticacaLake Titicaca. Yes, that’s the name. “The birthplace of the sun” in Andean belief and the largest lake in South America, as well as the highest navigable body of water in the world. A little history brief: “Incan mythology claims that Lake Titicaca was the site where civilization first began. It was here that the first Inca King, Manco Capac, is said to have been born of the sun god. The gods later created a wife for him, and together they founded a tribe that would eventually grow into the Inca Empire that dominated much of South America before the arrival of Europeans in colonial times. More than 180 ruins and monuments remain in the area as testaments to the architectural prowess and cultural beliefs of the ancient groups of indigenous people that inhabited the region long ago.”

Pretty incredible.

After like 1,000 steps up (at elevation), we arrived at our hotel. We did splurge a little for this place (I mean, like $90 per night), but it was great (well, no hot water I don’t think, but 3 different beds and super white clean sheets). We hiked the island (got lost), relaxed, watched Breaking Bad (typical) and drank local beers- oh, and had some great quinoa soup. There are no cars on the island and only about 800 families so it was pretty quaint.

Isla del SolSteps down to Lake Titicaca. The pup that followed us for about 3 miles on the trail (what a cutie, but good idea not to touch). Inca statue at the island’s water source.

Isla del Sol PicsBeautiful flowers on the island. Reed construction typical to the northern, Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. Some brick construction.

Bolivian Woman

Isla del Sol map 1

Isla del Sol Church

Isla del Sol ruins

Isla del Sol ruins 2Inca ruins called Chinkana dating back to the 15th Century. The above picture is a sacrificial ceremonial area. The hike out here felt like 20 miles, although I think round trip it was only about 8 miles- and it was hot. That sun! We took a private boat over to Isla de la Luna one of the days after missing the public morning boats.

Isla del Sol boatLeaving Isla del Sol to head towards Isla de la Luna.
Isla de la Luna boatThe Inca ruins of the Temple of the Virgins are on Isla de la Luna.

Isla de la LunaInca ruins all to ourselves.

I am so grateful we had 3 full nights on Lake Titicaca. Just enough time to explore everything – and just enough time to get excited about the next place we were headed: Peru.

And so, a wake up, a pack up, a shower, food, hike down and a boat taxi later- we were hopping on a long-ass bus ride up to Puno, Peru. Bolivia, you are (were) so amazing. How’d we get so lucky to explore places like this.

Bolivia Flag





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