Puno, Peru and crossing the border to Copacabana, Bolivia
Unloading off the bus from Cuzco, groggy and exhausted, we funneled into a massive lime green concrete room to sit down for breakfast at plastic chairs and tables. Surprisingly they served eggs! However I stuck to half a piece of bread since it was the first time I was eating anything in the past 18 hours.
The Floating Islands of Lake Titicaca
Not too long later the bus dropped us off at the docks of Puno on Lake Titicaca where we headed off to see the Floating Islands. Having not done much research prior, I assumed the floating islands were masses of land that happened to be floating in the lake, oh boy I was wrong! Haha
The floating islands were made by the local people out of reeds. They cut chunks of the roots out of the ground, stacked loads of cut reeds on top, then staked the corners to the bottom of the lake with ropes, ta-da floating islands! Apparently the islands were created so the people could escape from the constant conquests and battles surrounding them in the past. They created their own area so they could chose to rule and survive how they pleased. The islands were absolutely bizarre!
We stopped at one island where we all sat on log shapes made out of reeds, where our frazzled and moving-a-million-mile per hour tour guide gave us a rapid fire explanation on the people who lived there. We got to eat the reeds (they peeled like bananas!), see the traditional straw house they lived in (Brrrr), and take a ride on the reed boats they used to ride around the lake in. Jordan and I made friends with a pair of siblings; the smallest cutest boy with more boogers than I could ever imagine and his older adorable sister who was a little shy, but extremely smart and friendly.
Crossing the Peruvian Border into Bolivia
Not to long later we were back on the boat and then back on the bus headed to the Bolivian border. Right at the border dad realized the passport photos they had taken as a requirement the Bolivian visa (which is somewhat complicated and expensive to get) he had left on the kitchen table in the US. Our Bolivian Hop guide told us it shouldn’t be to much of a problem and we could solve it on the Bolivian side.
It was the first time I had walked across an international border. We took all our things off the bus, put them on our back and walked into the Peru exit immigration office where they gave us an exit stamp and sent us towards the border. We walked across the border, where we were greeted by our new Bolivian Hop guide, and stood in line for the Bolivian entrance immigration office. Thanks to the fact that I had already obtained my Bolivian visa in Argentina and entered and exited the country on the way to Peru all I needed was a quick stamp and was on my way. Unfortunately for my family they were slightly unprepared and photocopies had to be made and photos had to be taken before they could get the visa. It was a slight headache of a process, but alas we all made it into Bolivia with visas!
Onto Copacabana, Bolivia
The reason we had chosen the Bolivia Hop bus company was the fact it was a ‘hop on’ and ‘hop off’ system that also included tours. We had decided we wanted to hop off and spend a night in Copacabana. A couple months prior I had found what looked like the coolest hotel on trip advisor, Hostal Las Olas; more like whimsical cabins up on a hill looking over the lake.
Hostal Las Olas
Arriving at Hostal Las Olas we couldn’t contain our excitement and awe at the incredible place we were staying.
We had booked Suite 7, the Torre del Mar, and it was fabulous. A three store circular tower with a kitchen, bathroom and double bed downstairs; panoramic view of the lake with a table, fire place, and two beds on the second floor; and even more panoramic views with a small table and hammock (!) on the third floor.
Every cabin had its own garden (with signs saying to pick the flowers for the vase on your table) and outside hammocks with a picnic table. Best part: a natural looking in-ground jacuzzi that they said could be hot by tonight if we desired.
After being so sick, and all of us being exhausted from traveling overnight we could not have been more thrilled with our lodging. We decided to eat in and spend as much time as possible in our fabulous place to celebrate. 🙂
A much needed nap later we enjoyed a delicious (comfort food) meal of pasta with homemade delicious bolognese sauce (ahhhh, dad’s cooking!). It was a wonderful, relaxing evening that we finished by soaking in the jacuzzi and looking at the stars. Funniest part was we kept wondering how the tub was going to be hot since they had only filled it hours earlier; it was THE hottest jacuzzi I have ever been in. Took me about 10 minutes just to get in. Thankfully they turned down the heat for us and we enjoyed the most pampered, tranquil night we throughly enjoyed and needed.
Exploring Copacabana, Bolivia
The next morning we all felt a bit guilty having done nothing in Copacabana the night before, so we headed out to explore the town. After about an hour and half we had seen the church (which was incredible!), the main food market, and walked the main street in town. Copacabana is pretty small haha.
We had a tour of the Templo del Sol on Isla del Sol with the Bolivia Hop company at 2 pm, so we found one of the restaurants with rooftop seating near the white anchor where we could enjoy the sun, look at the lake, and watch for our group to arrive.
At 2 pm we headed down the anchor meeting point, but no one was there. We realized a couple people who had hopped off yesterday were waiting as well, but by 2:30 pm we were starting to wonder if the tour had left before we had gotten down there. However we were entertained by two older hippies who had been traveling for the past 40 years. Both quite drunk, they had very intense conversations with us, obviously just wanting someone to talk to. One of them befriended Jordan where they switched off playing a couple songs on guitar. We were relived when we saw a man wearing a Bolivia Hop vest walking down the street, they hadn’t left yet!
Boat Ride to Isla del Sol
Wanting to soak up more sun, we all sat on the top of the boat for the hour and a half ride to Isla del Sol enjoying some Bolivian beers supplied by our tour guide. As always when traveling with groups of people we had great conversations with a woman named Jackie from Australia who had just finished some interesting work in Ecuador and a group of kids from the UK. We all were quite happy to reach the island, pretty chilled from going against the wind the entire way.
Exploring Isla del Sol on Lake Titicaca
Getting out our crude map, we realized that the boat docked literally right under the Temple of the Sun. It was one the older, less kept up inca ruins I had seen on our trip thus far. We wandered through the ruin, talked a little bit with a girl who had a pet llama, then continued up the path to the mirador of Lake Titicaca.
Our breathing was heavy (thanks to the fact we were constantly at about 12,000 feet above sea level) when we reached the highest point and took a couple pictures.
We then continued down the path until we started entering the village of Yumani. Since we only had an hour to be on the island before the boat departed back for Copacabana we didn’t have time to explore the little town, but we walked through part of it down to the dock where our boat was waiting. The final staircase down was beautiful, a small stream on the side, flowers, and an Inca man and woman welcoming you to the island.
Believe it or not, our conversation on the top of the boat back to Copacabana was more interesting than on the way there. We chatted with an ex-Canadian lawyer who had traveled for the past 10 months all over Europe, Asia, and now South America. He had crazy stories from Russia, Japan, and even visited North Korea. The other was German couple, the man was of Iranian descent. Hearing about the middle east was fascinating; as always the more you talk (listen!) with travelers the more you realize how much there is to see in the world.
Continuing with Bolivia Hop to La Paz
Back on the bus, we were on our way to La Paz, Bolivia. The trip had a couple stops, getting off on a ferry to cross Lake Titicaca at one point, getting some street food on the other side, then back on the bus. The best part was we got dropped off RIGHT at the door of our hotel, Hostal Sol Andino.
Exhausted and tired I had a bit of a melt down when I started doing research on the main thing I had wanted to do in La Paz, bike death road, and realized that it was a tour you needed to book at least a day in advance. It was 11 pm, all the tour offices were closed, and the tours left before any offices opened. Dad was going to check if the tour office was open in the lobby of the hotel at 7 am, but with almost non-existent hopes I went to bed pretty bummed out.
To discover whether or not we ended up biking Death Road, click here!