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Sacred Waters of Isla Del Sol

Friday, September 12, 2014
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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

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  • How far would you risk to get to where you want to go? 
KYOTO, JAPAN: Each of the famous torii shrine gates has been donated by an individual or a Japanese business in the hope of receiving good luck and fortune. The name of the donor is inscribed in black ink on the back of each gate.
  • Today I met someone who didn’t know her self worth and it left me with a heavy heart. She admitted she wished for a lot of things and dreamed of accomplishing all her NY resolutions. 
It reminded me of a story I read how we tend to create a big gap between expectations and reality and we cannot see it. How young women daydream for a perfect life and compare themselves with stuff such as ‘body goals’ or ‘couple goals’ rather be known for their accomplishments and how smart one can be. 
It made me realize how much we always have to remember to be kind to ourselves and practice love. It’s an easy thing to ‘be yourself’ but quite another thing to know who you truly are. 
I hope you stop counting your mistakes and stop torturing yourself with regret. I hope you love so strong, where you will always find the courage to say the things you wanted to say. I hope you never ever have to compare yourself to anyone but keep growing into the strong, smart and beautiful woman you are. 💫
  • This isn’t the ‘perfect instagram picture’ but I was never one to post for the number of ‘likes’.
Every picture I post on instagram is because it has a story behind it, and... an unforgettable memory. I didn’t even realize @dennisstever was taking a photo of me, and, to be honest, I think it might have been a fluke, because, if you were on that zodiac with us, you would understand how maintaining our balance was our first priority, otherwise it would have been be a dip in the freezing arctic waters. 
We anchored our sailboat in the middle of nowhere, they call it the arctic wilderness, miles away from tromso’s port. We took the zodiac to reach an uninhabited island and all I could remember, was the water level at my boots, and I was holding on to 3 camera bags and equipments and remember asking Dennis to repeatedly say “If MICHELLE falls off, save her cameras first” 😂
I’ve asked him so many times to acknowledge the fact that I’ve given him full permission to save my equipment first before anything else, and it just makes me laugh so hard on how far I am willing to go to save my gear. 
This photo reminds me of life. The adrenaline rush, the subzero temperature winds at the break of dawn, the unknown, the love, the risks we take, the crazy decisions we make in life and for our passion, in my case, it’s my love for photography. 
Can’t wait to return in two weeks on a @travelwithtjd 💫
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  • Felt on top of the world...
Can you guess where in Portugal this was taken 2 years ago?
  • A week ago, I was walking barefoot on an island 🌴... Today, I’m recovering from the flu in bed... and in a couple of days I’ll be back to winter mode ❄️. How is your weekend looking so far? 😊
  • Truth: A lot of you question how I have things figured out... it’s far from the truth. I promise. 
The truth is, I take risks in the things I believe in, personally and my business life... and learned not to try and overthink when making the decision, because I remind myself how hard I worked for my career and passion to come together. 
I take risks not because I’m brave, but because I really believe that it could be SO good when it works out, or when a project I pitched for succeeds... I look back and realize how far I have come and remember thinking that things were such a mess I would never recover. 
I have never led an ‘ordinary life’ nor a life that would suit everyone maybe...but that is the only life I love despite the sleepless nights working and my heart racing all the time. “That’s the sleepless life of an entrepreneur” they say. 
I am determined to be the best of what I only believe I can be, even when I may lack in other things or even when I fall... But my life is about breaking my own limits and not let the outside noise affect my judgments. That’s how I make it through... 💕
  • Here is a little bit on how this picture was taken... As drones are strictly not allowed @sixsenseslaamu - I had to find a way to climb on the roof patio and hook my camera  on a balcony pole so it doesn’t get blown away or fall right into the pool. 
When I finally thought I had the settings set on and the camera hooked properly, I ran down the stairs, out the backdoor, into the front door of the pool deck and sat there with my remote control. The sun’s light has increased slightly then and my settings were all wrong again 🤦🏼‍♀️, if you were my Neighbour, you would see a crazy lady, with her hat flying away, running up and down the roof top. 
Luckily, my remote’s connection to my camera and the light was finally set and I took the shot. Then I just sat there. Watching the sky turning from pink, to orange to clear blue. 
Only then, I realized my camera was still hanging ever so lightly... so, pulled myself together and rushed back on the rooftop. 😊 That’s the story 🌴
  • I worked out what would make me happy, and I worked out what I wanted to do, and I trained myself to do the job that would make those two things happen. ‘You make it sound so simple...’ Everyone said 
It is simple...The thing is, it's also a lot of hard work. And people don't want to put in a lot of work. But I didn't get here simply by wishing for it.
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  • Legend says that there is an intangible string of fate that binds two souls destined to be together... Whether as best friends, lovers or two crossing paths.
Those connected are bound no matter of time, place or circumstance.
The red string of fate is derived from an ancient East Asian belief. According to this myth, the Gods tie a red string around the ankles of those that are destined to meet each other or help each other in a certain way.
And so, no matter how near or far you are from the person, the thread remains. 
There will be times when mentally or physically, you feel distant from the person, but that doesn’t affect the thread that binds you two together. 
If you feel that with a lover, friend, or someone you just met... take a minute to remember what you just read and always be kind to one another. 💫