Another island on another lake - Isla del Sol, Bolivia

Monday, February 29, 2016

Lake Titicaca our third and final big lake experience on our six month Central and South American tour - an adventure to one of the world's great lakes and to the picturesque Bolivian beauty that is Isla del Sol. Camera's at the ready if you're planning a trip to Isla del Sol. You do not want to miss the amazing photo opportunities.


Isla del Sol, Bolivia at a glance

✓ Language: Spanish 

✓ Currency: Boliviano's

✓ From Peru: Take the bus from Puno to Copacabana for $5 - border crossing is done as a group

✓ Street food: $1

✓ Restaurant food: $3-$5 - Avoid eating Pizza around Lake Titicaca

✓ Drinking: $1 Cerveza

✓ Boat trips to Isla del Sol: $6 Return - Boats leave in the morning and the afternoon from Copacabana

✓ Island Tax for Isla del Sol$2

All prices in US Dollar

Bolivia, Peru, Lake Titicaca, Isla del Sol, travel, travel blogger, travelsandmore
Lake or ocean? Lake Titicaca, Bolivia

From Peru to Bolivia

We'd arrived in Puno after road-tripping through the Andes on the straightest two lane road I had ever seen. Llamas to the left, alpacas to the right and a whole load of nature. We didn't spend too much time in Puno, a little too cold and a little too bland to everything we had seen before. After two nights we boarded a bus to cross into Bolivia, our final country.

The crossing was a stress-free affair on a large organised bus. $5 US dollars will get you from Puno on the Peruvian side to Copacabana on the Bolivian side. Our bus service even came with a helpful border crossing tour guide who informed us of every stop and detail of the crossing. Stamp-out in Peru, walk through the arch into Bolivia. Stamp-in, easy! Except for the girl on our bus who's visa had expired. 

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The actual road to Bolivia from Peru 
Bolivia, Peru, Lake Titicaca, Isla del Sol, travel, travel blogger, travelsandmore
A small section of Puno - brick on brick on brick
Leaving Puno is something I'd wanted to do since arriving as I mentioned early it's not really a must-see kind of destination. Puno is cold, filled with unfinished concrete buildings and about as good looking as the inside of a brick. The lake by Puno is polluted and unappealing, even Puno's small bay is filled with unidentifiable floating items. It isn't exactly a place any person would choose to spend any amount of time. 

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I'll never get bored of llamas and alpacas

Copacabana, Bolivia

Copacabana, Bolivia on the other hand is much more appealing. The small town has a range of brightly coloured lake side hostels and hotels, many with rooftop restaurants and bars catering to all tastes and budgets. Yes, it's touristy but it's small and there are enough locals and indigenous peoples that you barely notice. Food wise don't eat pizza in Copacabana nowhere makes their own even though everywhere brags about their pizza ovens. Copacabana looks like heaven compared to its Peruvian neighbour Puno. Arriving here, with the sun shining hard made the dirty waters of Puno no more than a distance memory. Copacabana feels welcoming, more so than Puno. The atmosphere is different too, I guess there's just something comforting about the presence of other backpackers. 

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The bay at Copa from the lake

A sunset over Lake Titicaca from Copacabana
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One of the rickety make shift boat docks

Islands and more, Isla del Sol

The big thing to do on Lake Titicaca is island hopping. Tours to all the major islands are available from Copa and private tours to less visited islands are also extremely easy to organise. Taxi boats leave twice a day too if you'd ether explore without a guide. We spent our first afternoon on a private rental boat fishing and enjoying the sun. They fished, I enjoyed the sun.

A quick spot of fishing for a change
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Another island explorer picture

The biggest lake I've ever seen
Many of the islands on either side of the border are inhabited and ancient cultures, traditions and languages live on in the communities of the islanders. Isla del Sol, our island of choice! And what a choice it was. I've since read that Isla del Sol is usually most people's Bolivian highlight and I absolutely cannot disagree. The surreal island paradise doesn't look like much from the boat dock but walking 50 meters to the first sandy bay is enough to win anyone's heart. The clear blue ocean-like waters and the light sand almost convinced me to swim, it was only the temperature that held me back. What a treat Isla del Sol is, paradise really does spring to mind. 

Isla del Sol, Bolivia

One of the first things we noticed though is that a group of travellers have pitched up tents and inhabited the small sandy bay. Evidence of litter, bottles and general discarded belongings filled the beautiful bay. I'm not sure if this is allowed but more arrived on our boat and started pitching up. 

Bolivia, Peru, Lake Titicaca, Isla del Sol, travel, travel blogger, travelsandmore
How picturesque views of the lake from Isla del Sol, Bolivia
Bolivia, Peru, Lake Titicaca, Isla del Sol, travel, travel blogger, travelsandmore
Island lake, island and then more lake
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The perfect view point 
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Bolivia, Peru, Lake Titicaca, Isla del Sol, travel, travel blogger, travelsandmore

Bolivia, Peru, Lake Titicaca, Isla del Sol, travel, travel blogger, travelsandmore

Around Isla del Sol

Exploring the island is easy. There's a popular walking route most tourists choose to take, it's the best way to take in the scenery and enjoy this beautiful island. It does come at a cost though 10 Bolivianos the equivalent around $1.50 US. The geology and landscape is constantly changing as you walk the stone footpath, there's never a boring moment. 


Locals smile as you wander past their farms and fields. All growing hundreds of varieties of potatoes and beans. Each individual just as proud of their island, home and land as the one before. I'd heard quite a few stories about the locals of Titicaca disliking the presence of tourists on the islands but I never once got that impression during my time there. The people are all welcoming and go about their lives whilst small groups enjoy their native land. 



This is the beach that homes the campers
Going back to the make-shift beach camp filled with messy haired, scruffy clothed South American backpackers I can perhaps understand where this rumour started. The most disappointing part of my experience of Isla del Sol was watching these individuals exploit the island. Taking but not contributing to the community. Camping and cooking to avoid spending, we watched as groups scavenged for left over pasta as local women bake bread to try earn an honest living.

It's a real shame to see empty bottles stacked by the bins left for locals to clear away. I've said this before but I truly only believe tourism is good when it's mutually beneficial. Here in this small instance of pitched tents and blatant disrespect, tourism is the enemy.

I hope for your sake the Bolivian authorities have removed their squatters rights before any future visits to Isla del Sol.

Bolivia, Peru, Lake Titicaca, Isla del Sol, travel, travel blogger, travelsandmore
And these are the scruffy campers - Have respect people

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