lunes, 12 de marzo de 2018

Sailing on Lake Titicaca - Bolivia Side

In previous posts we have already talked about the awesome experiences and tourist attractions of sailing on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca and, although this blog is based on the travels to Peru, it seems unfair not to talk about the beauties and main atracctions on the other side of the lake.

To cross the border there are several options, although the safest and most recommended is through Yunguyo, which will take us directly to Copacabana, our base to visit the famous islands of the Sun and Moon, the sacred sites of Andean mythology.

From the land terminal of Puno (between Av. Costanera and Jr. 1 de Mayo), the bus company Ormeño offers services to Copacabana at 7.00 and 7.30 am for about 25/PEN - 8/USD. Or if you wish ,you can follow the road to La Paz from this point.

The journey will stop at the border exchange office for the traveler to complete the obligatory entry formalities. Carry cash and be respectful of control agents. It's not the first time we've heard that some unfortunate commentary has left people without being able to get through or asked for a' bribe'.

If we have more time to travel, another economical option is to take one of the minibuses in the city of Puno that stop in the small towns that are in the outskirts of the Peruvian shore and thus to know its people and their customs.

Among these towns stand out: Ichu, with some beautiful remains of Inca temples; Chucuito, which has some curious stone phallus of more than one meter (where some women sat in search of fertility); Liquina Chico, which has small funerary chullpas; Juli, known as the "Little Peruvian Rome" for its four 16th and 17th century colonial churches; and the town of Pomata, with a beautiful Dominican church on a hill and a viewpoint called Asiru Patjata.


Crossing the border through Yunguyo, we will find the quiet Bolivian town of Copacabana (3841 masl), with approximately 15 thousand inhabitants and large number of businesses focused on tourism. In 6 de Agosto Street there are restaurants of pizzas and fried trout (specialty of Copacabana), exchange offices, banks and travel agencies that offer visits to the well-known islands of the Sun and the Moon.

Copacabana is also known for being a center of pilgrimage, because inside its Basilica (dating from 1601) is the image of the Virgin of Candelaria, patron saint of Bolivia. Inside the temple we will also find the Chapel of the Candles in which miracles of all kinds are requested. In August, thousands of Peruvians and Bolivians carry their cars to be blessed at a well-known popular festival, so caution is advised against possible thefts.

If you have time, you can rent bicycles for about 80/BOB - 12/USD a day and visit the Mount of Calvary, where we will see a beautiful sunset and nearby Inca sites, or Yampupata, about 17 km away on the Sicuani peninsula.

Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun)

According to Andean mythology, the Sun, Manco Capac and his sister-wife Mama Ocllo were born on this island, and later went to Cusco to found the Inca dynasty.

The main tourist attraction is the Inca complex of Chincana in the north of the island, while the south side -along with the community of Yumani- has the Inca staircase and the fortress of Pilkokayna.

In Chincana is located the Rock of the Puma or' Titi Khar' ka', which gave the name to the lake and according to legend, belonged to the body of a puma that devoured the men of the island, making the god Inti (Sun) cry for 40 days and 40 nights, creating the Lake.

Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon)

About 8 km from the Island of the Sun is located the small Island of the Moon, also known as Coati, considered the second sacred island of the Incas. The most remarkable visit is the Palace of the Virgins or 'Iñak Uyu', where a group of selected women learned various trades such as textile or manufacturing to serve the god Inti or as concubines to the Inca.

On both islands there are simple lodgings where you can spend the night and some restaurants *be aware of the low temperatures in the area. Camping is also allowed on both islands.

There are many agencies in Copacabana that offer the Tour of the two islands for 50/BOB - 7,5/USD, although they do not include payments for the communities in Isla del Sol (10/BOB - 1,5/USD north and 5/BOB - 0,75/USD south) and Isla de la Luna (10/BOB - 1,5/USD).

The departure is at 8.30 am and takes the travelers to Ch' allapampa, in the north of Isla del Sol. On the island there are services of guides, and although they are not obligatory, for 5/BOB - 0,75/USD tips can be very useful to get to the place and learn more about the local history.

A day tour is often criticized as a hasty and poorly organized experience. From Puno you can hire circuits (more expensive) that include food, luxury boats and guides.

Lake Titikaka by Free

You can reach it independently by taking a one-way ferry to Isla del Sol by 10/BOB - 1,5/USD, to Yumani and 15/BOB - 2,25/USD, to Ch' allpampa. We can spend the night there and leave the following day from the northern part of the Moon Island. Ferries depart early in the afternoon from the north of the island.

Departures from Copacabana to Yumani: 08.30 and 13.00 hrs.
Departures from Ch' allpampa to Yumani: 13.30 hrs.
Departures from Copacabana to Ch' allpampa: 13.30 hrs.
Departures from Yumani to Copacabana: 10.30 and 15.30 hrs.

Another option is through the Community Tourism Network of Lake Titicaca, with which we will also be contributing to promote community tourism and paying the same communities.

They offer one-day- to three-day tours on the islands sleeping with local people and their offerings include folk dances, bird watching, storytelling or local food. There is a center of attention in Copacabana, where we can find a museum with valuable information about the communities in the area.

There are no excuses to enjoy a total experience in the waters of Lake Titicaca.

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