07.11.2012 - 07.13.2012 67 °F
Copacabana July 11 – 13
At 7:30 a.m. a large tourist bus picked us up at our hotel for the 3 ½ hour ride to Copacabana. That should have us arriving sometime late morning but for another 1 ½ negotiating the narrow curvy streets of La Paz in a large bus picking up passengers and then another hour just to reach the out-skirts of El Alto. The ride along the lake was beautiful broken up only by a short ferry ride across a narrow straight in which the bus unloaded and we all took a small water taxi across the strait the bus following on a large makeshift barge powered by an undersized out-board.
I’m sure that more than one bus hasn’t completed the trip. Copacabana is a lovely town on the south side of the lake and is the first really touristy town we’ve encountered in Bolivia. The upside to that was our accommodations, La Olas is a collection of unique and whimsical cabanas scattered on the hillside above town. Martin, the German proprietor, has great vision and the attention to detail was unlike anything we’d encountered in Bolivia. At $70 a night for the four of us it was a little on the pricey side for Bolivia, but recalling that I’ve paid $85 for a Super 8 on the freeway and that similar digs in the states would run more like $250 to $300 a night we had no complaints. Especially considering the solar water heater on each cabin, Las Olas may have the hottest showers in Bolivia, a huge bonus at 12,000 feet in the Bolivian winter.
After settling into our room we picked up some food for hike the next day to Isla Del Sol, and hiked to the Mirador above town. In the morning we caught a large water Taxi for an 1 ½ boat ride out to the Island. Lake Titicaca is as beautiful as it is huge. Despite crystal clear skies, there is nothing except water to the north and the east side is bounded by the high peaks of the Cordilliera Real. Mount Illampu at more than 6,000 meters dominates the skyline while Huyana Pichu and Ilumani to the south offer distant exclamations.
Isla del Sol is the largest island on the lake at a couple of miles wide and 6 or 7 miles long. With beautiful views of the lake in all directions, the most amazing aspect is the terraces that cover every slope. The Incas believed that Lake Titicaca was the birthplace of civilization and from the look of the ancient terraces they might be right. We made a lazy circuit of the south side of the island returning late afternoon for the boat ride back to Copacabana, and a private hot tub lit by bright southern constellations at Las Olas that night.
The next day we slept in and took a long walk around the northern end of Copacabana to swim in the cold waters of Lake Titicaca. I was the only one that actually swam but Aidan at least got his head under while Bridget only managed to go knee high.
The next morning we caught the bus early for the 4 hour trip to Sorata.