Isla del Sol — Solitude at 14,500 feet

The aptly named Isla del Sol (in Incan cosmology, the sun god Inti was born on the Island), is a thin, 10km long island in the middle of Late Titicaca.  Lake Titicaca, on the border of Peru and Bolivia, is both the largest lake in South America and the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,507 feet.  There are tourist destination on both the Peruvian and Bolivian side of the lake, but for people thinking of visiting the area I would highly recommend Isla del Sol on the Bolivian side.

After the hellish border crossing the night before, and with my confidence a little shaken, I woke up early on January 19th to catch a boat from Copacabana to the island.


A pleasant hour and a half later, I, along with a boatload of Argentinians and Chileans, made it to the north side of the Island.  I disembarked, found a place to sleep that night, and immediately started exploring the island.  I’m not sure I can adequately describe the beauty, so I’m gonna include a lot of pictures.

The perfect balance of the stark, rocky terrain with the smooth, blue water that met fluffy white clouds on the horizon captivated me.img_2444img_2441img_2451

(That’s Lucy by the way, my first real travel buddy)

I spent hours exploring the northern part of the island, and made a bunch of friends while doing so.  At around 3pm, I climbed back down to drink and swim with everyone staying the night on the island (if you go, do this!).  Cue an afternoon of awesomeness:img_2453

But as the sun started setting, I realized I had an opportunity.  Every single local and tourist had come back to town, leaving an empty island that was just begging to be explored.  So I left civilization behind and climbed to the tallest point on the island at 14,500 feet.  Which, as an aside, is really really high up.  Thousands and thousands of feet past the point where you start feeling the effects of the altitude.

It was an incredible decision. While not even close to the best sunset of my trip, it’s a special one for me.  Something about being that high up, surrounded by incredible natural beauty, in complete solitude with absolutely no one within a mile of you and the sound of the wind as your only companion, was surreal.  Especially after the nightmare that was the day before, it was exactly what I needed.img_2455

I waited until it was completely dark, hiked back down with my headlamp, and passed out, committed to getting up before anyone else so I could experience it all over again.

The next morning, I was up and out the door as the sun was rising, so I started my  day to this:

Once again I was completely alone on top of the world, and I savored my 2.5 hour hike from the north end of the island to the south end.img_2475

I caught a boat back to Copacabana later that afternoon, bringing to a close a nearly perfect two days.  My trip was back on track.


One thought on “Isla del Sol — Solitude at 14,500 feet

  1. These are, without doubt, the finest “amateur” travel logs I’ve seen. Sam, you have a talent for making the viewer FEEL right there with you. Keep it up, and thanks. Fred Pelzman


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