"I Grew My Boobs in China" and " Backpacks and Bra Straps"
26 year old Canadian, Dutch resident travelling to every country in the world (111 so far) to become the first Canadian female to visit them all. Bestselling travel AUTHOR and founder of popular #TRLT Twitter chat.
Lake Titicaca is only a couple of hours away from La Paz and is a popular local weekend getaway. So we went during the week and found it relatively quiet. Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and often considered the highest commercially navigable lake in the world at 3800m. The lake straddles the Peru/Bolivia border with the Peruvian side being much more populous and developed, both in a local industrial/agricultural sense and for tourism.
Lake Titicaca has been considered sacred by many civilizations, including the Inca, and there are hundreds of small ruins dotted around the lake including many temples dedicated to the worship of the sun and moon which were believed to have originated here along with the rest of the cosmos and even humankind.
Our first base on the lake was at Copacabana, a small town on the Bolivian side with the country’s only beach. There are beautiful views of the lake from the nearby hills but Copacabana is mostly used as a starting point to visit the sacred islands Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna. It is quite popular to stay overnight on Isla del Sol and relax in the peaceful, pastoral village setting with no cars and just llamas, locals and terrace views to keep you company but we opted to visit the islands on just a day trip instead. The tour boats are relatively small and painfully slow but we were able to just relax in the sun on the roof between stops. Our first stop was a quick one on the small Isla de la Luna. Home to only a few families and the ruins of a temple, it was still easy to imagine priests holding ceremonies here.
Isla de la Luna
Isla del Sol is the much larger and more significant island, being the supposed birthplace of the sun. There are 3 villages with a total population of a few thousand but for the last 2 years only the southernmost section of the island has been accessible to visitors. We stopped at some small ruins and then walked up and over a hill along some terraces to the village of Yumani. The views were incredible but Yumani is very touristy now. It felt like half the village is a guesthouse and restaurant now and with boatloads of visitors coming everyday it can get quite busy and crowded now with little room to spread out. Visually though, it is fantastic but we made the right choice to not stay.
Pilkukayna ruins, Isla del Sol. Isla de la Luna in the background
Walking along the terraces
We had to stop to relax
Compared to Copacabana, the Peruvian city of Puno on the western shore of Lake Titicaca is a bustling and dirty tourist hub with far more hassle. Somehow most of the city smelled like urine and not just in the places you expect it to. We’d read enough negative reviews suggesting that the Bolivian side was now the only one worth visiting that we’d seriously considered giving this half of the lake a miss. There were definitely a lot of unappealing and poor value tours available of both the day trip and overnight variety out there. The floating island communities of Uros are supposed to be pretty terrible now. The more traditional islands of Amantani and Taquile are still supposed to be quite nice but are becoming very popular with tours and we didn’t fancy being stuck on more boats again at the mercy of questionable tour agencies so after looking at all of our options we decided to go on our own and stay in the small village of Llachon on the Capachica peninsula. We couldn’t’ve been happier with our decision.
Llachon is beginner’s DIY, not exactly a hidden and unheard of destination, but somehow still off the beaten track with both the package tour and backpacker crowds. There are about a dozen family-run guesthouses available to stay at and they provide meals so really all you have to do is show up. Simple places but the atmosphere is so relaxing and the people still so friendly with everyone greeting you as you pass on the street. We stayed two nights and walked along the village trails up the hills to various lookouts and enjoyed the solitude and peace while soaking up the views of the islands and coast around us. We only saw a handful of other visitors in our time there which was exactly what we were looking for. Bolivia may be the generally quieter side of Titicaca but Llachon was the best we found and probably what people think that Isla del Sol should be like. I give it another 5 years or so before it gets “discovered” and really starts to change.
View from our guesthouse in Llachon
Strolling the streets of Llachon
Looking over the rest of the Capachica peninsula
Playing dress up
Having re-energized our spirits it was time to head to Arequipa and begin the next leg of the trip with Bre and Dylan.