My Llama buddy Kevin
For the first time in a long time I slept properly. It probably had something to do with the hiking I did yesterday. After hitting snooze on my alarm twice I pulled away the sheets to the cold that my exposed floor boards and lack of heating caused. Back they went on again as I realised I still had more time, so asked myself 'what piece of luxury can I afford here?' Breakfast in bed! I reached for my leftover pizza from the night before. "Ahhhh", I was ready to face the cold.
After taking the steep climb back down to the Yumani Port, I was for once early for my 10am boat to Challa Pampa (20Bs). The first thing I noticed was how many more people were crowded on this boat. "Oh that's right", I was going to the day tour end of the island. Everyone was kitted in their extreme climate clothing, hiking boots and walking poles. I had to laugh. "You're not in Machu Picchu, and I guess you didn't figure out they were going to the ISLAND OF SUN!" I guess I looked like the stupid one in my shorts and shirt, but this time I covered my neck with a bandana as yesterday caused some serious burn!
One of many small torquoise-coloured beaches in the North of Isla Del Sol
After arriving I made sure I was first off the mark as I knew I'd be battling crowds most of the day and started legging it. I'd have got a lead hadn't I seen the lady selling chicken & avocado rolls, so I stocked up not wanting a repeat of yesterday. As you walk through the town, immediately you can see the inviting torquoise-coloured beach. Strange that I can't see any pigs but instead a hippy doing yoga who'd just stepped out of his tent perched on the sands. More hippies sat cross-legged playing guitar and braiding hair.
I thought I had a good pace up the hill being acclimatised until the people doing 1/2 day trips nearly got up to jogging pace. I don't blame them having to fit everything in in a few hours. I passed more people in ridiculous amounts of clothes as I was sweating my balls off!
A Cholita carries her handycrafts and souvenirs to the touristic spot near Chinkana
After maybe 45mins I reached the main area of ruins on the island and two whole tour groups showed up just as I did. They were being ushered swiftly so all I needed to do was wait a moment to get some 'money shots'. The Inca's were kind enough to set up a stone table overlooking the bay so I sat to have my brunch to thank them. Once again I checked my photo map to figure out how far I had to go and what time it was. I was really keen for a chilled afternoon so I opted to skip the giant mountain leading nowhere but to an awesome view to my left. The people on top were minuscule!
[Try to spot the two people walking up it in the photo below]
The Inca ruins of Isla del Sol - minus the tourists
On I trekked along the never-ending main path back to Parte Sur. It went up, and up, and kept going up! Just when you thought you were at the top, there was another peak ahead. All I wanted to do was see what I hadn't seen yesterday and head back to relax. On my way I tried to think what half of the island had me more interested. A part from the Inca ruins and a couple of nice beaches, all the North end has to offer is tourists. As soon as I crossed over I found myself isolated and that's what I came to enjoy. The North has virtually no locals, animals and lacked any character. I'm glad I did both halves separately and would urge others to do the same as they have different things to offer.
What might have been an Inca's office in Chinkana was mine during lunch
I certainly didn't cover the island in the most economical or efficient way. I've also never been about writing travel tips but here's a few:
- Stay on the island - Unless you REALLY just like seeing ruins, stay one or two nights, or more! In hectic Bolivia it's a saving grace of chillness.
- Pack light - hostels in Copacabana (if you stay in them or pay them) will let you lighten your load and return to pick them up later.
- Don't wear too much - You're closer to the sun, it gets hot! It's a bit chilly on the boat but it warms up very quickly.
- Bring enough cash - There's no ATM's here, or cars…just loads of farm animals. They're not much good to you.
- Don't book a hostel - it's useless unless you call them. Instead shop around when you arrive but do some research on what's decent.
- Pack food supplies - The island, apart from Yumani and Challapampa, you'lll find it hard to get food other than snacks. Stock up in the ports and find one of many amazing places to sit, eat and take in the scenery.
- Take a photo of the map - unless you have a photographic memory, this will come in handy.
- Don't be a douche bag - If you have a dodgy leg then maybe pack walking sticks, but you don't need 5 layers of the most technical hiking/camping equipment to get you through. In saying that don't just wear some 'Jesus' sandals on your feet because you're bound to stub a toe. I witnessed it.
Back to the mainland I go tomorrow but I've thoroughly enjoyed it all! Even the cold showers! If you come to Bolivia, get yourselves here... It's a gem.