Who could ask for more … at the Copa, Copacabana! But it’s not what you think. Bolivia has its very own Copacabana (Copa to the locals!) … it’s the main Bolivian town heading north towards the Peruvian border and the town that lies on the rim of Bolivia’s side of the infamous Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Again, one of those places I had done before but was so happily about to do again! Lake Titicaca straddles the border between Bolivia and Peru in the Andes Mountains and at 3182 metres above sea level, it really does feel like you are on top of the world! It is said to be the highest navigable lake in the world. At 190 kilometres long by 80 kilometres wide there are spots whereby, once on the actual lake, it is so big that it appears to be like an ocean; you really can’t see the shore! It’s said to be the birthplace of the Incas, and with its many scattered ruins, it really does have that mystical feel about it.
It was upon arrival, that we would meet Paula, our new friend from Brazil whom we would spend the next couple of weeks travelling with. We hit it off instantly and as she and Alex chatted in the plaza, I went and looked for a place to stay. After checking out numerous places I decided on Hostal Sonia, cheap, clean, comfy and with amazing rooftop views. It had a kitchen as well, which is always a bonus as we do a lot of cooking in-house. I’m not going to lie, Bolivian food has mostly done nothing for me; chicken, chicken, chicken, rice, beans, lots of fried food a negligible salad or veggie portions! Adversely, the markets have an amazing array of both fruit and vegetables; they became my best friend in Bolivia! My checking of hostels had provided me with a mini-tour of the town. It was really just as I had remembered it, but with more shops and more tourists! This is what happens, hey!
We spent a great few days here doing everything from the infamous Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) to the less travelled to Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon). I had not been to the latter before. The Island of the Sun is a short boat ride away and despite its proximity to the mainland can still only be traversed by foot, no roads or cars and only paths to walk on, which is what makes it special really. The terrain is rocky and the island is inhabited by the traditional Aymara people. Scattered with ruins, it is a delight to walk around. Upon arrival by ferry at the dock village of Yumani, you are greeted by a lovely hanging garden along what is known as the Escalera de la Inca (or Inca’s Staircase) culminating in a beautiful rolling waterfall. And it just gets better from there really! A walk around the island will make you feel like you are the Queen or King of the Castle and that you own the world.
Much less visited, but I was determined to do it this time, was the Island of the Moon. Much smaller than the Island of the Sun, this island is known for its mythological significance to the Incas and is home to the ruins of the Temple of the Virgins. It is inhabited on the Western side by a small village of about 80 people. The locals are friendly, the atmosphere tranquil and quiet and the island is still without electricity. Both islands have places to stay, which was definitely not the case on my last visit. One can only hope that tourism ‘progresses the cause’ and does not damage it. We can only hope … and wait and see.
We also did lots of things in and around Copacabana. No trip to the area would be complete without a walk up to the top of Cerro Calvario, or Calvary Hill. Close to the centre of town, it’s approximately a 30-minute walk up the steep hill. The steps make it a little more comfortable but it’s steep nonetheless. The views at the top are extraordinary! In front of you lies Lake Titicaca in all of her splendour and glory!
|Blessing of the cars.|
It’s impossible to escape the imposing Moorish-style Church of the Virgin of Copacabana. It’s one of the most important and visited churches in Bolivia, its construction having been started in 1601. Some days, and particularly weekends, are devoted to the
‘Bendicion de Movilidades‘, where people go to bless their cars. It truly is a sight to behold! Each day cars jam the cobblestoned streets, decked out like children awaiting baptism, and a priest walks around sprinkling water on them. Once the ritual is complete the owners crack open a bottle of champers and head down the road with a renewed sense of well being. Given the country’s crazy traffic and cliff-hugging roads, its understandable that some may want to seek divine intervention!
|Virgin of Copacabana church.|
One of my favourite spots was the Horca del Inca, a pre-Inca astronomical observatory built in the 14th century. Visited by very few tourists, it’s a climb that requires both decent fitness and shoes, but oh what a view!
We also visited the floating islands of Chani, very close to the town centre. Not nearly as big or as touristy as those in Puno, on the Peruvian side of the lake, they were still pretty and worth a look see. Surrounded by some pretty high rocks, we scrambled up some of them for yet some more rewarding views. the locals make a living here by feeding the locals fresh fish direct from the source!
|A world with a view, Chani Islands.|
|With the Uruguayan travellers.|
Another day was spent walking along the shore of the lake and chatting to the locals as well as the ‘foreigners’ who had come across the border from Peru. We also met a Uruguayan couple travelling South America in their little car. Love these moments.
We had had so much fun in Bolivia! An amazing country with so much to offer, the highlight was the many amazing people we had met and shared good times with. It’s hard to believe that we had spent almost two months here. The next country awaited us. Peru … are you ready for us!!!
|Peru … here we come!|
“Live each day as if your life had just begun.” – Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
Next: Peru … the whirlwind tour!
|Bolivian street art.|
|Island of the Sun.|
|With Paula on Island of the Sun.|
|Island of the Sun.|
|Being offered beer by the locals.|
|Travelling the world.|
|Life is for living!|
|The highest navigable lake on Earth.|
|Festivities in Copacabana.|
|The festivities continue …|
|Blessing of the cars.|
|The Fountain of Youth, Island of the Sun.|
|Cholitas, Virgin of Copacabana church.|
|Travelling with my soul mate.|