Bolivia Categories Collaborations South America Top 10

Sacred Waters of Isla Del Sol

Friday, September 12, 2014
Sacred Waters of Isla Del SolLike0

Sacred Waters: Isla Del Sol – Travel Junkie Diary

By Sarah Freeman 

There are islands and then there are islands. Isla Del Sol (Island of the sun), located in the Southern part of Lake Titicaca, Bolivia, isn’t any ordinary island. Amongst the rocky, hilly terrain are perfectly preserved Inca ruins. It is here, according to legend, that God Viracocha, creator of the universe, emerged from the waters of Lake Titicaca and created the sun. And this is no ordinary lake – at 3,200 square miles in size and up to 1,000 feet in depth, Titicaca is one of the largest, highest and deepest lakes in the world. I took an hour-long, very calm and scenic boat trip from Copacabana on the mainland, to explore this ancient holy site of the Inca. Surrounded by the azure Lago Titicaca with the imperious peaks of the Cordillera Real rising above the shore on the mainland to the east, there is no denying the island’s great natural beauty and tranquility. Life here is very simple – no noise, no motorized traffic, no rubbish on the streets, and, wait for it, no wifi! This is a place to (literally) switch off, and breathe. And the locals preferred mode of transport? Donkeys of course! With a population of around 5,000, Isla del Sol is dotted with several villages and two small towns – Challapampa in the north and Yumani on the south end. Some people choose to do a day trip from Copacabana and take the ferry to either the north or south of the island, and walk the length of the island in either direction. If you want to really ‘escape’ and take at least a few days here, I recommend staying at one of the many ‘hospedajes’ in either of the towns. You just turn up and ask for lodgings, reservations don’t exist here! I stayed in Yumani, also the site of the island’s famous Inca Steps, which descend down to the lake. 206 stone steps (believe me – you will feel every single one of them!), built by the Incas, lead up into the town and to a sacred fountain, made up of three separate springs and are said to be the fountain of youth. If you enjoy a spot of hiking and breathtaking views, you can walk the circumference of the island in a day, and be back in time to watch the sunset over the mythical Lake. There is very much an indigenous culture that exists on the island – expect to be meeted and greeted by young children with herds of donkeys and women (or cholitas) wearing the traditional belled skirts and ‘bombin’ bowler hats. It is possible to get a map of the walking route from the ferry dock at Copacabana, but the path is very navigable. On the north end of the Island of the Sun is the town of Challapampa and a series of ancient Inca sacred sights, the highlight of which is the fascinating Chinkana (labyrinth). A massive stone complex full of mazes, it was thought to be an ancient training centre for Inca priests. A natural spring begins here, runs under the island and appears again in the sacred fountain in Yumani. Heading back to Yumani in the North, there are plenty of opportunities to take a dip in the clear blue waters, explore forgotten villages and exchange greetings with the locals. Don’t expect wild entertainment in the evenings though! The most magical thing you can do (and it’s free) is star gaze. This is some of the clearest sky in the world. As for dinner, restaurants are still a pretty new concept here, but you can’t go wrong with some of freshly caught trucha (trout) at your lodgings. Just like thousands of pilgrims flocked to the shrines and temples on this very special island years ago, the spiritual and non-spiritual are now drawn by Isla del Sol’s tranquility and unique, un-spoilt beauty. Go now, before the secret gets out…

How to get There

American Airlines flies from Dubai to La Paz (the capital of Bolivia) via London and New York. Copacabana is four hour drive from La Paz.

Lifestyle
Lifestyle
ISLA DEL SOL walking from North to South
ISLA DEL SOL walking from North to South
ISLA DEL SOL tranquil waters
ISLA DEL SOL tranquil waters
ISLA DEL SOL - NORTH ISLAND
ISLA DEL SOL – NORTH ISLAND
COPACABANA
COPACABANA

BIO PIC Sarah Freeman‘s professional background is as a Magazine Art Director, working for the last five years in Dubai on high profile women’s consumer magazines, including Good Housekeeping. Alongside her creative job, she has dedicated a lot of time to photography. Food and landscapes are subjects I am particularly drawn to, “which is why I have just spent 7 months adventuring through Central and South America, documenting every step of the way on her blog!” Find her on Instagram too Here.

 

Travel Junkie Diary

A bohemian traveler

Leave a Reply

Follow @ traveljunkiediary
  • Soneva Fushi is an Island that celebrates the natural environment. The first sustainable luxury hotel in Maldives since 1995, creating a positive impact on Baa Atoll and the neighboring islands. I was proud and happy to be part of the island and learn so much more about sustainability travel. @discoversoneva
  • Hello winter in Dubai. Back here for a couple of days and rushing through the week before I take off again. I was fortunate enough to have met and worked with @zeebalife who I quickly ‘clicked’ with the moment we started chatting earlier this year. I don’t ‘click’ very easily I must admit... and I’m very much in my own bubble... and that’s ok... so when I do, I hang on to them because it just works without any effort. And it’s the best kind of friendship. Happy Sunday! #MyDubai
  • Just because she let go... doesn’t mean she wanted to... 💫
  • Let’s take a ride to the spa together 🌴 @fsmaldives
  • Droning isn’t always easy in Maldives especially when you see seaplanes crossing and guest worrying about their full right privacy. But at sunrise, when everyone is still asleep, and when the jets are no where close by, you can always fly really quick and capture the beauty of the island - ❤️🌴 @fsmaldives
  • I am drawn to your imperfections. I am drawn to shared interests and hobbies in people. I am drawn to the light in your eyes when you talk about something you love. I am drawn to your success and to your failures and most of all your challenges. I am drawn to every non-perfect side of you, because otherwise, everything will be lifeless.
  • How long can you stay in Maldives? For me, I think I can do about two weeks and never get bored, even on rainy days! @fsmaldives
  • From where she drones from @fsmaldives Who said a 5 year old couldn’t use a drone haven’t met Chloè 😊
  • Sometimes, unexpected friendships are the best 💫 - Sunny, @saltysun__  the surf manager at @discoversoneva has started a sustainability surfing programme - one of its kind in Maldives. So when she told me let’s go out at sea in the pouring rain with crazy winds, I just knew we would be friends instantly! I can’t begin to describe how much I adore the sea and what it means to me. I’m in my element. ❤️
  • A wish you were here kind of moment 😊
@discoversoneva
  • Touchdown back to my favorite place... Maldives. 
Getting involved in our ocean conservation efforts by the marine biologist at @discoversoneva and the sustainability programme they are working on, for example, the Soneva Ocean Stewards (SOS) programme has taught hundreds of children how to swim and encourages the local community to appreciate the precious marine ecosystem surrounding them.
  • The year is almost over - flew by so quick at times and times it passed too slow!! This was shot in January early this year. I have a good feeling about 2018 despite 2017 being a little challenging. What are your Christmas plans? I’m spending it in Lebanon with family and friends, what about you?