Copacabana & Isla del Sol, Bolivia

This is the last in our blog series for Bolivia. To read from the start of our Bolivia travel journal, click here

Getting to Copacabana was pretty stressful as it was Easter Friday, and travelling up the replacement Death Road was pretty full-on, with our taxi driver swerving everywhere at first, then ultimately getting stuck in traffic! We did manage to see some of the tarmac bit of road without the mist though, so that was pretty cool.

After a quick stopover in La Paz, we caught the bus-ferry route to Copa, which was pretty fun (the ‘ferry’ was a TINY boat!) but once there it was a bit of a scramble to find accommodation as there’s a big pilgrimage on Easter Friday of indigenous folk, from La Paz to Copa, so all the hostels were booked out and there were lots of stranded looking families everywhere!

Our ‘ferry’ across the lake to Copacabana!

Festival vibes and families camping on Lake Titikaka

But we managed to find a 5-bed dorm in a pretty ropey hostel (winning the room over a family, which was pretty guilt-inducing!) And once we were settled in, me and Sam headed out for a much-needed ‘date night’ as the girls had friends in town.

The evening was pretty bizarre, I’m not gonna lie. The town enforced a power cut for the ‘solemn procession’ that we’d read about, to celebrate Semana Santa. So after seeing a pretty sunset on Lake Titicaca, we ended up wandering the streets in semi-darkness looking for (and failing to find) the parade! All the restaurants were candle-lit, so we ended up in a kookie hippy restaurant where we had bizarre pizzas, including one with three kinds of potatoes and Andean spice on it! We then wandered round town a bit more, and ended up in the cathedral, which was super beautiful, and also where the procession ended. Hannah informed us (as an eye witness!) that it was really weird – people dressed up in KKK-like outfits, following a Jesus statue in a glass coffin, and a few candles. Hmm!

A ‘cha’lla’ or blessed vehicle, that get dressed up on their way into town. This van has a TOP HAT, FML!!

The next day, we split off from the girls for a bit of couple time, and went for brunch down by the lake, and icecream, and checked out the ‘challa’ed’ or ‘blessed’ vehicles and festival activities by the lake, then caught an afternoon ‘ferry’ (again, TINY boat!) across to Isla Del Sol. It was a bumpy, long journey, but we met some fun young Londoner girls who we sat on the roof with, and chatted to pass the time. To our dismay, when we reached the Island, we realised the boat was actually taking us to the North, whereas we (and the London girls) all wanted to go South, as all the accommodation is here! So I finally got to practice some Spanish, as I explained the situation to the driver (some random lady had taken our ticket so they had no idea!) and we all got transferred onto his mate’s boat halfway up the island. It was pretty lol, as we had to basically climb onto the front of the new boat, with a load of Bolivians laughing at us, then scramble to wherever there was space! Sam sat on the front all the way back…!

Me and Sam enjoying some sun on the long boat to Isla Del Sol

Isla del Sol itself was so, so beautiful. On arrival, you have to climb the ‘Inca steps’ which nearly killed us (think hundreds of uneven stone steps, with a giant backpack on, at 3800m+ altitude!) but once at the top, it was totally worth it. We found an (almost) deserted hostel with a few friendly French guys in, and the most INCREDIBLE view of the island and the lake, and we decided to stay put. There was a shop on the cobbled hill nearby, so we did what true Brits would do, and went to buy a load of wine and rum, then settled in for a game of cards. It was a really fun game, with 6 of us, playing ‘President’, and we chatted and giggled away, whilst watching our first ‘moon rise’ over the lake, which was INSANE.

The testing Inka Steps welcoming us onto the island

Our first ‘moon rise’!!

We then went out for a group dinner to a nearby restaurant where a really sweet lady accommodated us, drunkenly barging in and rearranging her furniture for our group! We had a bargain set meal of quinoa soup, milanesa/omelet with potato and rice, and banana and chocolate for dessert, for about 3 quid. We were also joined by a fellow hostel mate Diana, who weirdly we’d been in a dorm with on the mainland in Copa, and she regaled us with her travel tales – amazingly, she’d travelled for 8 months on about 2 grand, sleeping under bushes, hitchhiking, volunteering, and relying on strangers’ kindness to keep her going. Amazing stuff! We also bumped into Hannah and India on the island, whilst hostel hunting and also at dinner (I think Sam’s voice was booming out of the restaurant, unsurprisingly!) and was really nice to see them, despite only being separated less than a day!

Indigenous farming community on Isla Del Sol

We were basically squatting in the hostel, as the owner hadn’t materialised all night, so we were happy to meet her in a drunken slurry state before bed time (we’d scribed a note to her in Spanish explaining the sudden influx of Brits, just in case!) and she was super sweet and took our money – all THREE POUNDS A NIGHT (our cheapest accommodation yet!) – for our stay.

View from our hostel on a cloudy day, Isla del Sol

The next day was SUPER sunny, so me and Sam took a walk around the island. It’s basically all indigenous farming community, so our walk took us through tressed sloping fields, with pigs, llamas, alpacas and donkeys phanging out in back gardens, and donkeys ambling up and down the hills carrying water and food (oh, there are no roads or cars on the island either!). We walked up to a couple of miradors in the centre of the island which gave us some great views (one was just the roof of an old pizzeria that someone had built steps up to!) .. but walking was really hard work (hills+bright sun+extreme altitude!) so we soon packed it in, in favour of finding somewhere nice for lunch.

Taking a breather during our high-altitude walk around the island

Casual backyard alpaca!

As it was Easter Sunday by this point, lots of restaurants were shut (and we started freaking out that we would starve, as there are only tiny corner shops on the island with CRAZY inflated prices!) but by mid-afternoon places were buzzing, and we went to a super cute restaurant overlooking the West side of the island, where we watched baby sheep playing around, listened to MENTAL sounding donkeys, and ate some very bizarre sweet pizza (when will we learn!?)

Eerie sweet pizza, but you can’t beat this view!

That evening was a pretty chilled affair, as I was pretty sunburnt, so we wrapped up warm and took our rum and coke out to the terrace, where we watched the sun set, the moon, and all the crazy bright stars (it looked like a Disney film!) whilst eavesdropping on the young London girls’ chat about Made in Chelsea and boys (I think they were early 20s!)

The next day was a bit of a washout. We’d planned to walk the island to explore some pre-Inca ruins, but the Isla del Sol proved to be an Isla del Clouds, so we took the opportunity to have a chill day, and snuggled in bed watching the skyline and the snow capped Cordillera mountains, blogging, watching LOTS of Community, and venturing out at lunch for another lovely set meal, including my first taste of rainbow trout, which was really good!

On our last day, we got up super early and ended up getting an even TINIER boat back to Copa with some locals, and hung out eating an expensive touristy brekkie, before catching the bus across the border and into our fourth country, Peru…!