Isla del Sol - the birthplace of the Incan culture in the middle of Lake Titicaca. Recommended as a good overnight trip to see the best views of the massive lake. The eight of us agreed to take a trip over to the island after we had all finally managed to get some money out of the bank (this still only through getting cash advances from credit cards !!). Instead of taking the boat directly from Copacabana, the guides recommended trekking 20Km from the town along the coast of Lake Titicaca to the closest mainland point to Isla del Sol and negotiating a crossing from there.
With the sun blazing early we set off with day bags and plenty of water for 2 days. No sooner were we out of Copacabana than we gained a new recruit to the group in the form of a golden labrador who happily played guide and trotted alongside us for the whole 20Km, stopping when we stopped and sitting patiently for us to continue. We walked along the pretty landscape through little marshes and wooded hillsides for nearly 3 hours until we were intercepted by a bloke offering a boat crossing. Walked 30 mintes off route before we saw his boat was an 8 seater rickety rowing boat suggesting it would be an hour crossing - never going to work for 9 people including rower. Chad and Justine still keen but Neil, Donna and I refused to be drawn and persuaded the group to continued looking for a motor boat.
After another 45 minutes another local who was so keen to prove he was in the Rough guide recommendations stopped us, we went through the usual bartering process (150 down to 80 for the 8 of us) before we reached agreement, leaving our Littlest Hobo to sorrowfully look back and turn to start his walk back to Copacabana. The crossing took 75 minutes in the motor boat and a little choppy gratefully justifying our refussal of the rowing boat which in hindsight would have taken all night. Very picturesque views of mainland and lake. However had fun getting back off the boat as we´d refused to pay an extra 10 Bolivianos for port tax meaning we had to jump onto craggy rocks like illegal immigrants to land of the Island and walk a further 30 minutes to the south port.
Another lovely walk with distant views of the glacial mountains in Bolivia. After so much walking, chilled out in cafes and chatted. Marika, Emma, James and Stephen turned up to add to the Arequipa beach party crowd and the 12 of us made up the daddy of all "shithead" games (I didn´t lose for once) accompanied by meat pizza (as opposed to the alternative of vegetarian pizza).
Our group on South American time and only made it down to the port with 10 minutes to spare to get boat to north port. The boatman tried to charge an extortionate 250 Bolivianos for the hour trip. The group left it to Dave and I to negotiate and we got them down to 150 between 11 of us (after we´d recruited 4 others). My turn to sit on roof which was pretty cool experience although far more rocky with only a 4 inch back support to keep you on board.
Island of the Sun not so sunny and storm clouds approached and on landing had 30 minutes walk to the ruins in full waterproofs. Ruins not that impressive given Peru´s offerings but worth a few photos before Dave, I and 2 of our recruits (Sarah - Canadian and Irene a 17 year old Dutch girl who was too young to travel to Oz so came to South America on her own instead !!) turned to walk the 3 hours back to the south port whilst the rest of our crowd took the easy option of 45 minutes back to the north port for a boat back to Copacabana. Really nice walk along the ridge of the island with great views over the lake making the harder option a worthwhile addition to the trip. Back to south port with plenty of time to spare for last boat to Copacabana. Return journey interesting as our boatman seemed to prefer sleeping to steering as we caught him with his eyes closed on at least 3 occassions. Fortunately with the lake being so vast, we were never close to a collision but we made sure he knew we were watching him so he made more effort to stay awake. He then asked Dave to help him refuel the boat in the middle of the lake whilst the engine was still running - fortunately we didn´t blow up(Bolivian health and safety !!). Good trip.