If there’s one sunset worth trekking far for, chase the sun as it settles behind the mountains that hug the shores of Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in the world.
Apart from the buzzing town of Copacabana, the small towns and quaint dwellings sprinkled along the waterfront are signs of a life rich in peace and simplicity. Tiny boats glide along an eternal, blue horizon, while rickety-looking docks stand firm in the shallows. From dawn till dusk, scattered among rows of crops, locals tend to their land and in the markets, they tend to their craft.
Although it’s quickly turning into a touristy town, Copacabana is still worth staying a day or two. If not for the sunset, go for Isla del Sol.
But more on that later…
As you wander the streets, you’ll stumble upon stalls selling every type of corn snack you can imagine, flashy textiles, and hand made crafts. But behind the stalls are where you’ll find some of South Americas most extravagant fashionistas, flaunting their waist long braids, the most important Bolivian accessory…the hat, and of course, the bright, colorful patterns they’ve rocked for years on end.
Isla Del Sol
If the views from Copacabana’s iconic peak don’t do it for you, a day trip to Isla del Sol will definitely do the trick. “Isla del Sol” translates to “island of the sun”, and if there’s one thing the Inca’s idolized, it’s that big ball of fire our planet revolves around. It’s believed that the Sun God was born right here on this island, making this bit of land, some serious real estate. The infamous Inca trails that criss cross the Andes mountains even managed to make it here and being able to retrace the footprints left behind by these indigenous ancestors is a pretty cool feeling.
You spend the day walking from the north end to the south end, taking in views from the east and the west. And if you’re like me and find yourself making up jingles, I’ll have you know I was walking to the beat of “walk like an egyptian”, but did my own remix to suit the occasion, changing the words to “walk just like an Incan”.
As you trek this ancient trail you’ll come across many ruins, but one of the highlights is this stone table. You quickly learn it’s exactly what it looks like. A sacrificial table. As I made my way to this sacred slab of stone, anticipating an epic scene, instead, I find three sweaty backpackers sitting down with their things sprawled out all over the place. It clearly didn’t occur to them that perhaps these were sacred ruins on the Sun God’s turf, and not the most fitting place to take a water break and apply their sunscreen. Thank god for the aggressive, Spanish tourist behind me who shoo’d them off.
How times have changed…a Spaniard protecting the indigenous.
A turn of the tide indeed.
Despite this small glimpse of life in and around South America’s largest lake, whether you set off exploring from the Bolivian side or the Peruvian, I’ve come to the conclusion that the Incas had a fabulous eye for where to set up shop. Just follow the Inca Trail and you’ll never be disappointed.