OYOP: Isla del Sol
We took an hour and a half ferry ride to Isla del Sol, one of the islands on Lake Titicaca. We had no idea we were about to go on a vacation.
As soon as you step off the ferry onto the south side of the island in the small community of Yumani, you are instantly amazed that chain hotels and restaurants didn’t snatch up this place decades ago. And you are thankful. There is an immediate charm of this island community, with a steep flower-lined staircase leading up to locally owned hostels and restaurants, and all the green you could hope for on an island.
We spent the first day exploring the south side of the island, stopping at viewpoints for uninterrupted minutes and sometimes hours just to watch the crystal blue lake water shimmer underneath the sun with mountains in the backdrop.
We ate dinner at a restaurant overlooking the lakefront. It seemed nothing could disturb the peace and calm of this place.
The next day, we walked the 6-hour round trip loop around the island. Yes, more hiking. The road had its ups and downs, crossing at some of the highest hills, but it was mostly flat and easy walking. You could see the water from every point along the trail. You can’t get a bad view from this island. I looked up, down, side to side, but nope.
You also can’t have a bad day on the Island of the Sun. We left the hostel for the walk, and for the first time since we started this trip, I didn’t pack my rain jacket. About 30 minutes into walking, in the clear open path with no sign of cover for kilometers, there was thunder and lightning and the raindrops began. At 13,000 feet of altitude, an overcast and rainy day is quite cold and miserable. Then, the island seemed to remember it’s name and fought off the rain as quickly as it came. The weather was perfect for the rest of the trip.
The walk was immensely pleasant. Even when there were parts of the trail with others passing, it was easy to find a nice spot off the trail for complete peace and quiet for however long you desired before continuing on.
There was one point when we were sitting on a nearly empty beach for a while watching one lady wading knee deep in the lake washing her laundry, another man on his canoe not far out catching fish with a net, and five piglets asleep in the sand underneath the sun that I wondered if there was anywhere else on earth that I might feel such peace and calm.
We ate lunch nearby the beach on the north side of the island, and just as I was thinking I could not possibly stomach another quinoa soup for dinner after having it several meals in a row, a group of travelers came in and told us about a gourmet meal they’d had the night before on the island. We were thrilled to hear of such an experience and vowed to find it for dinner that night.
We saw the sign for the restaurant as we made our way back into Yumani, and followed a less taken path for a few hundred meters until we saw the restaurant tucked away by some eucalyptus trees and along the hillside overlooking the lake.
We had heard the food would take at least an hour so we placed the order and sat outside, watching donkeys graze in the hillside grass and the sun slowly setting over the lake.
Once the food was ready, we returned inside and shared the best meal we’d had so far this trip, a rich and delicious lasagna made with a tomato and wine sauce. It was difficult to share, and we lapped up every last drop of sauce with the rolls we were served.
We caught the ferry back in the morning to Copacabana, and in the island’s true nature of making sure you have the best possible experience here, we sat on the ferry’s top deck and had the most interesting conversations for the entire hour and a half ride with travelers from Brazil, South Africa, New Zealand, Germany & Canada. We even exchanged info with Lucas from Brazil to try to meet up again in March. We left on such a high note and wishing our island vacation never had to end.