Bolivia, Destination, South America

La Isla del Sol: The Experience of Water in a Land-Locked World

La Isla del Sol, Bolivia

There on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca, lolling in the inky-blue depths from which Incan legend has it the Sun god was born, lies La Isla del Sol, the Island of the Sun, its odd, earth-coloured shape looking for all the world like a fresh splotch of paint, bone of the inner ear or short-haired yellow cat stretching out on the soft blue covers of its master’s bed. Our cat arches its sandy back into coves whose many shores are lapped at by the immense lake. The island, yellow and dry against the blue-black of the waters, lies still…

Isla del Sol, Bolivia

Growing exponentially in recent years as a tourist attraction, La Isla del Sol is best visited slowly; walked along…sat on…and contemplated.  Bolivia – land-locked and sandwiched between harsh landscapes – is a place to feel in; feelings and sensations that will rise and fall like her windswept mountains, or indeed, your own stomach after an ill-advised market meat dish.  It’s a country that will have an impact.

The island forms part of the country’s strange and often isolated scenery, but through this same isolation, offers visitors a moment to ponder before returning to the mainland.

Milestones, Isla del Sol, Bolivia

From Copacabana you’ll travel on an early morning or afternoon ferry ride to the Isla, a trip which is a pleasure in itself as at two hours long it’s almost like a mini tour if the Lake.  Cha’llapampa and Yumani, the Isla’s biggest villages, are home to the majority of the 800 families who call the island home.  If time is pinching, a short trip to one of these villages will whet your appetite for another adventure…but if you have several days it’s much more recommended to visit both, using them as the bookends of a day’s island walk.

Blue Waters of Lake Titicaca

The blue waters of Lake Titicaca, en route to the Isla…

In the off season, the Isla is quiet.  Short wanders lead you to archeological sites and heart-stopping views of this blue-yellow water world…

Where donkeys and pigs might cross your path…

And flowers cut the blue waters, and snow-capped peaks peek out from the horizon…

Cha'llapampa, Isla del Sol


Red Flowers and Blue Waters, Isla del Sol

While the air is clean and your surrounds do not appear dirty, travelers must be conscious of their impact here.  There are no recycling facilities, meaning plastics are periodically burned and the growth of tourism can all too easily put the balance out of kilter.  Be conscious of your footprint and come prepared to take out any plastics you purchase, or rubbish you bring in.

La Isla del Sol, Bolivia

Other, smaller villages lie along the way where you’ll catch a glimpse of island life as it bobs along.  Not far from the paths, countless windswept outcrops provide peaceful surroundings for a moment’s thought…

Children Swimming, Isla del Sol Bolivia

If you are not made uneasy by extended peace and are willing to let your busy Bolivian experience in La Paz or Santa Cruz momentarily go, let a few days pass by on the island to allow your island time to sink in.  Stay one or two nights in Cha’llapampa – the north village – visiting ruins, thinking, walking and experiencing the odd almost sea-like sensation this enormous lake gives to its oceanless land.  Later, as you walk to Yumani, take your time – between two hours and a day depending on your pace – and drink in the jagged island’s many inlets as you go.  Stay there another night if your cup has not run dry, or catch an afternoon ferry back to Copacabana.

For a new, slower, more ambling pace in contrast to the busy colour of many of Bolivia’s cities, the tones and form of La Isla del Sol delight…


For more South American tales and guides from Erin, visit  The Souls of My Shoes

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