Lake Titicaca – Isla del Sol & de la Luna – Day 158

Sun 8th Jul

Having arrived yesterday quite early and had wander around, there wasn’t a huge amount to do – just a little town set up for tourists. A small beach town with bars, restaurants and tour agents. The lake is filled with kayaks, pedaleos and inflatables.

I grab some lunch, buy my boat ticket to Isla del sol tomorrow and bus ticket to La Paz tomorrow evening. Note – all tour companies offer 2 times but only 1 company has this. All buses leave at 1330 to La Paz with Titicaca Tours offering a 1830 service (they add another 10b to this service making it 40 not 30). Local buses go every hour but not to the centre for about 20-25b.

Today is another early start. It’s breakfast then to the boat for 0800. We all pile on and eventually we’re off – a bit of an understatement as it’s like the slow boat to China.

I meet a lovely group of Argentinians which is great as I get to speak more Spanish. The last few days is the most I’ve spoken in ages.

First stop is to Isla de la Luna which houses the Temple of Virgins. That’s about all I know as there is no guide here. I’m a bit annoyed as I was told there would be one. Maybe the guide on Isla del Sol will share some info…

We pile back on the boat after an hour here and on to the next Island. We pay another 10b entry and the guide leads us off – in Spanish. Off he goes explaining this that and the other which is great for the native Spanish speakers – but not for me. I understand around 60% but Inca history and vocabulary isn’t something I’ve focused on in lessons and much of it is lost. I’m again disappointed because I was hugely interested in this place. The guide wants to give me a half arsed explanation in broken English but I’m peed off and just ask for my money back. I’m going to have to consult Google!

With the aid of Sacred Destinations, I managed to gleam this information:

According to Incan lore, after a great flood, the god Viracocha arose from Lake Titicaca to create the world. He commanded the sun (Inti), moon (Mama Kilya) and stars to rise, then went to Tiahuanaco to create the first human beings, Mallku Kapac and Mama Ocllo. These first humans, the “Inca Adam and Eve,” were formed from stone and brought to life by Viracocha, who commanded them to go out and populate the world. Thus Lake Titicaca is the birthplace of the Incas, whose spirits return to their origin in the lake upon death.

In addition to Lake Titicaca itself, several of the 41 islands in the lake are regarded as sacred. Especially important is the Isla del Sol, located on the Bolivia side near Copacabana. The largest of all the lake islands (but still only 5.5 by 3.75 miles in size) , Isla del Sol was regarded as the home of the supreme Inca god Inti.

On the north end of the Island of the Sun is the town of Challapampa, home to the fascinating Chinkana (labyrinth). A huge stone complex full of mazes, it is thought be a training center for Inca priests. Unusually for the Incas, the construction is a bit sloppy—some archaeologists theorize that they must have been in a rush to build it. A natural spring here runs under the island and appears again in a sacred stone fountain in Yumani.

(At the moment, you can’t visit the North of the island though due to a disputed between the 2 sides).

About 270 feet from Chinaka on the path back to the town of Challapampa is a sacred rock carved in the shape of a puma. Further along the path toward Challapampa are two very large footprints. These are said to have been created when the sun dropped down to earth to give birth to Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, the “Adam and Eve” of the Incas.

On the south end of the Isla del Sol is Yumani, the largest town on the island and the site of the Inca steps.

Here, 206 steps built by the Incas lead up into the town and to a sacred fountain. Made of stone and having three separate springs, it is said to be a fountain of youth

Sunset on the Isla del Sol is magical and best appreciated from the lighthouse on the highest point on the island at 13,441 feet. The sun bathes the sacred mountains in bright colors, and reflects its light in the deep blue of the sacred lake, before sinking below the horizon.

The Isla de la Luna is the legendary home of the Inca goddess Mama Quila. The structures on this island were originally built by the pre-Incan Aymara culture, but the Incas left their mark on the architecture as well (such as the typical trapezoidal doors).

During Inca times, the Isla de la Luna housed chosen women known as the “Virgins of the Sun,” who lived a nun-like lifestyle. They wove garments from alpaca wool and performed ceremonies dedicated to the sun.

From here, disappointed, I follow the path across the island, taking in the views – especially of the Cordillera Real mountains in the distance

(they’re calling out to me but I’m not sure I’ll be doing any hikes here), saying hello to the locals and enjoying the sunshine. Finally I reach the boat stop and grab some lunch. It’s a beautiful setting with not so nice food, ruined by some guy who asks to sit by me who then proceeds to eat like a freight train! Did ur parents never teach u how to use a knife and fork and to close ur mouth whilst ur eating!!!

We pile back on the boat to Copacabana at 1500, I grab my stuff at the hostel and get my crowded bus to La Paz at 1830.

A girl I met on today’s tour is on the bus and has the seat next to me so we natter most of the way. The journey isn’t too bad and does only take the said 4 hours. The worst bit is the congestion at the bus station.

I get a taxi to hostel when again like in Bogotá it looks like the biggest shit joke ever! In Spanish I ask the taxi driver about the area and he tells me it isn’t the best. When we pull up at my hostel he tells me it isn’t safe, not nice and full of druggies! He takes me to a nearby hotel and for only £10 a night and a central area I rake it!

I finally get to bed around midnight – knackered!

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