La Paz Day Tour: Lake Titicaca and Isla Del Sol
As my eyes adjusted to the morning light that peeked in my window, I awakened, ready to start the day. Today my boyfriend and I were going to travel with Bolivia hop, a bus company that provides a hop on, hop off service. I was looking forward to the trip we chose: La Paz Day Tour to Copacabana and Lake Titicaca.
Well, this was certainly something new. The idea of a package deal that not only includes easy bus travel with a clean and comfortable bus, but also includes stops and tours along the way with a guide sounded easy, way too easy. As the abominable side of human nature works, skepticism kicked in, and I dared myself to find something wrong, or worse yet, for something to go wrong with today’s trip.
Escape from La Paz with our guide Alejandro
As we slowly lumbered down the stairs, I heard someone call out my name. Our guide, Alejandro (or Ale), was already there, greeting us with a smile. Checking my watch on the sly I realized that they were on time. Wow. That had to be the best start to my day! Nothing riles up an OC girl more than tardiness.
We climbed onto the bus and were greeted by sleepy-eyed travellers much like ourselves, all excited to commence the day’s adventure.
After the usual fussing and getting settled in we made our way out of La Paz, passing out through the city, watching the world outside slowly come to life. It was a chilly morning, but we were warmly wrapped with cozy blankets provided by the bus.
At 9:35 am we arrived at the Tiquina Mirador and enjoyed the beautiful viewing point of Lake Titicaca. Its crystal blue waters contrasted nicely with the snow-capped mountains in the background, the Cordillera Real. This place was so picture-perfect, I couldn’t help but take as many pictures as I possibly could.
Alejandro explained that we would be crossing the lake at the strait of Tiquina with a speedboat and the bus would go on a separate barge so we climbed back on the bus and headed towards the lake.
The Strait of Tiquina is a narrower part of Lake Titicaca that allows you to cross easily. Many buses and cars cross on a barge to towns across the water to save on travel time. Our bus was no exception.
While the bus was shipped on a ferry, we hopped on our speedboat and relaxed for a sunny ten minute crossing. Once across, we hopped back on the bus. From this little village it was just an hour more before we arrived to the little fishing town of Copacabana.
Arriving to Copacabana
Located between two hills, Copacabana is a city full of history and culture. With some free time to roam, we spent some time walking through the streets. The cobbled roads, the old Spanish built cathedral, a typical local market, they all lent a charming vibe to this place.
We had lunch at a little lakeside eatery: trucha or trout. This dish is one of the main things eaten here and was served as fresh as it comes, delicious and tasty.
Our group met at 1pm at an extremely notable spot: The White Anchor. Our guide gave us clear instructions of where we would be dropped off on the island and where to meet the boat again. A handy map was given to each of us so we would know where to go. This was perfect for my particular self as it expressed order to the tour.
Here we hopped on a boat headed for the famous Isla del Sol or Island of the Sun. Gliding through the shimmering waters of Lake Titicaca is the only way to get to these islands.
Gorgeous Isla Del Sol
This tour completely piqued my fancy as I loved the idea of legend and mystical vibes coming together. From what we learned, according to Incan belief Viracocha, the creator god, rose up from the depths of the magical Lake Titicaca and created the sun, stars and moon. The mythical Inti god, or sun god of Incan culture, was born here on the island, giving it its name.
All throughout the island you can find ruins dating back to the 15th century A.D. and see how serious people were about their religion and worship of the Sun god.
Once we alighted the boat on the south side of the island, we made our way to the Pilkokaina temple, or what is also known as the Temple of the Sun. This is one of the more important archaelogical sites on the island as it was dedicated as a resting place for the Incan ruler.
With the sun high overhead, we climbed the hill. With no motorized traffic to be found on this island, there are no roads or paved streets so the island’s main sites can only be accessed by foot. This can prove quite challenging, especially if you are a lightweight like myself.
Once we reached the top, we were rewarded with a spectacular, panoramic view of the Lake in all its splendor. This lovely walk on a perfect day proved to be a great escape from the hustle and bustle of La Paz city life.
After an hour’s walk we made our way back towards the port located on the other side, passing the Yumani fountain, which the Spaniards believed to be the fountain of youth, and the reconstructed Inca stairway made up of exactly 206 steps.
Meeting the boat at the port at 3:30 pm was the ending to the isla tour. We took the boat back to Copacabana, hopped back on the bus and were dropped off at our hostel from where we began the trip.
Thinking back on the day’s events, I could honestly find no fault in the La Paz Day Tour. Our guide was approachable and friendly, always ready to answer my many questions, the bus was punctual, and most of all it was organized to a tee.
One of the best things about this service (which I honestly thought at first was just a fluff piece for marketing purposes) is the pick up’s and drop off’s they do directly to your hotel or hostel. With all the horror stories I’ve read online and heard through friends concerning the dangers that occur around public bus terminals at night in La Paz, this was a major deciding factor in choosing this tour.
This added service is what completely sold me on this tour and eliminated any preconceived doubts and fears I may have had.
If I were to critique it in any way, I would suggest a Bolivia hop guide go with us on the island as it would have been amazing to hear all there is to know about the ruins we came across. Other than that, it was perfect! I loved the scenery, the history, the culture and most of all the magic of Lake Titicaca and its surroundings.
Jenny Wallace is travelling from Argentina to Columbia with a mission to visit every country on the continent. She and her boyfriend Eric have so far been to the Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro, have visited the Salt Flats in Bolivia and have hiked up El Chalten in Argentina.