Day 1 – 10 Dec 2016
We were up early today to catch our bus to Copacabana. We finished the last mango that we were carrying with us since Santa Cruz for breakfast and it was still very delicious. Then we took a taxi to our pick-up location of the Hop-On bus. The bus was on time and we headed to Copacabana. We looked at the views of the city from above one last time and started looking for the Lago (lake) Titicaca. The first part of the road was under construction, so we passed by some neighborhoods on our way. We saw some headless men figures made of clothes, hanging on the electric poles. The guy we met at the hostel, Alexander, had mentioned this to us before. This means that if we find you stealing, we will take the law into our hands. Seeing the figures, we felt how threatening this can be! There is no tolerance to stealing in this culture and that is intrinsically a good thing, we thought. Then we got back to the main road but it was also quite bumpy, which we didn’t mind at all.
We were excited to see the views of the lake finally and the road runs along the lake almost all the way. When we got close to Copacabana, to pass the last strait, we got off the bus and passed to the other side, to San Pedro de Tiquina, by boat; while our bus was passing by another boat just big enough to take the bus. It was funny to see this simple way of transportation.
We got to Copacabana around 11:30 and we wanted to eat something first. We sat at one of the restaurants with a terrace on top and enjoyed the view of the lake and the little harbor in front of us. We ordered quinoa soup and trout, which is very famous for this lake. The soup and the fish were delicious, but they forgot to bring the desert which was included in the lunch menu originally. We were a bit annoyed because we had to leave by 13:00 to catch the boat to Isla del Sol and they didn’t apologize and still charged the price of the full menu. The regular boat is at 13:30 but Bolivia Hop has its own boat. It leaves earlier but is a bit faster than the other ones, that’s why they say that we should use their boat to return to make sure that we catch the bus to Cusco.
We sat outside on the upper floor of the boat and enjoyed the view of the lake and the islands. There were some French people sitting outside with us. A local guy operating the boat asked us if we had a place to stay on the island and offered hostels to people, and what he offered was much cheaper than the cheapest hostel we found on booking.com. He also offered us a boat ride the next morning to the north of the island. The others wanted to do the trip as well so we joined them to decrease the price we need to pay per person. That solved our problem of arranging transportation for the next morning.
When we got to the island, we started our climb to our hostel. It was located at the top of the hill and we walked slowly enjoying the scenery and breathing in between. The altitude is around 3800 m and it makes breathing hard when you are climbing up hill. When we got to the hostel, our room was just the bed and the bathroom, nothing impressive for the price that we were paying. Along the way, many people asked us if we were looking for a room and gave much cheaper prices. If you are going there in low season, don’t book a room in advance. M was quite pissed. What’s more, no one spoke English, we were still able to understand what they were saying with our little Spanish, but we could not argue back. We asked for a simpler room without the shower and paid a bit less and didn’t want to deal with the commission they are paying to booking.com. We left our bags in the room and left as soon as possible to get our thoughts away from this annoyance.
We walked to the west side of the island. There was a nice bay over there and we wanted to get down, but as we walked down, we also debated whether we can climb back up :p As we walked down, a local man told us that we can swim if we liked. We asked if it is too cold, but he said it was possible. When we got to the water, we thought it was too cold and didn’t dare to swim. We enjoyed the view for a while by the water and then we climbed back up. Climbing was harder and we had to stop often to catch our breath, and many people that are carrying things from the bay to the other side of the island walked much faster than us, but we made it to the top, walking alongside the donkeys and other locals.
Here there were some restaurants and we picked one to celebrate our achievement with a beer. We also saw a double rainbow around the sun while sitting here. M wanted to have a pizza for a change, and he thought it tasted like homemade pizza of his grandma. We sat there and watched a beautiful sunset. As it got dark, we decided to head back to bed as we are to meet the others by 7:40 to go to the north side of the island.
Day 2 – 11 Dec 2016
Today we were up and M was again annoyed that there was no breakfast and we overpaid for the hostel. What was worse was that there was no other restaurant nearby that was open at this hour. We walked to the hostel that the French guys were staying at and asked for a continental breakfast. After having this breakfast quickly, we were, especially M was, ready for the rest of the day. The others were nice enough to wait for us, we left with a very slight delay around 8:00.
The small boat took us to the north of the island and we were by the Challapampa village around 9:00. We bought sandwiches for lunch here, because we were told that there is no other place along the hike to buy, which did not turn out to be true actually, there were small shops along the way, but we don’t know the pricing, they might be more expensive. The water by the village at first seemed warm enough to swim. Then we started our hike to the north end of the island. The first beach we got to looked so beautiful that we couldn’t resist and changed to our swimming suits. Then, we just put our feet into the water, up to our knees and it was so freezing cold that we could feel the tingling on our toes! And we ran out of the water as fast as we entered =)
B became really close friends with the donkey on the beach, the donkey was probably more interested in the sandwich we bought at the village than B dressing back to her trekking clothes =P
So we went on to the hike with a delay of another half an hour and of course we lost the rest of the group at that point. We first hiked to the north, where there is the holy rock and an Inka village. The village itself was very interesting and B started walking around the labyrinth of the ancient houses. We wanted to spend more time here, but we had to make up for the time we lost during our attempt to swim. Since it’s very high altitude, we didn’t want to risk it. But both this Inka village and the nature is very beautiful.
As we went on our hike, we were ticketed for the Inka trail for 15 Bolivianos for the Challapampa side of the island. We thought it was worth it as they used it for the maintenance and we believed that it went to the people. However B was a bit upset that there were no signs with information about the site and the history along the trail. It was nevertheless worth the hike just to see the beautiful bays from above.
We were also asked to pay when we reached the Yumani village in the south. Luckily we kept our tickets from Bolivia Hop, which already paid for us, the day before, because the port was on this village. Before going to the port, at the top, we had time to stop by the same restaurant as last night and have one last beer and enjoy the beautiful view. Then we walked down to the port accompanied by the donkeys of the village. As we waited our boat to leave, it was interesting to see how they would transport goods from the port to the village by donkeys. We settled on top of the boat and enjoyed the scenery of the lake and the islands as we got back to Copacabana.
Here we got our big backpacks from the restaurant that we left at and our bus arrived more or less timely. The border crossing to Peru is very close to Copacabana. After checking out in Bolivia, we crossed the border walking and carrying our bags to the bus waiting for us on the Peruvian side. Then we checked in to Peru and it was again a smooth transition. We love crossing borders and not needing the visa:)
Our next stop was Puno where we did not have the chance to visit the town but just walk to the restaurant. Bolivia Hop (Peru Hop on this side) had an agreement with a pizzeria and we already ordered by phone for everyone before getting to Puno, so our food was very quickly ready when we were there. We only could see one of the main streets and a park as we passed by it between the bus and the restaurant in Puno. We also remember a lot of people queuing up for a concert of a local band:) Then we headed to Cuzco and spent the rest of the night trying to get as much sleep as possible.