Lake Titicaca is both the highest navigable lake in the world and the largest lake in South America. It sits on the border of Bolivia and Peru– quite convenient for us as we made our way from La Paz to Cusco. We hopped an early morning bus in La Paz and arrived in Copacabana, a lovely if touristy little town on the Bolivian side, in time for a late lunch. (Sidenote: Travel with Brian for very long and you too will become accustomed to ordering everything in relation to your next meal).
Copacabana features a well-known cathedral, famous for its Moorish architecture as well as the benefits conferred therein: pilgrims show up to receive blessings on miniature versions of whatever they desire, thus increasing their expectation of receiving the real thing in the coming year. Accordingly, just outside the church enterprising vendors sell tiny houses, cars, baby dolls, llamas, and an assortment of other things.
After we’d thoroughly explored the town and paddled on the lake in the most amazingly derelict swan boat ever to float, we tackled a sunset climb. Cerro Calvario (Calvary Hill) is a hill overlooking the lake and the town. The steep path to the top features monuments representing the 14 stations of the cross, and at the top there are beautiful views, particularly at sunset.
On a rainy morning we caught an early boat to Isla del Sol, in the middle of the lake. It’s a rocky, hilly island without any paved roads or motor vehicles. We were lucky to hire a donkey to schlep our bags up to the highest point on the island where our guesthouse was located. We spent the day hiking around, checking out the scenery as well as a few of the island’s many ruins. It is thought to have been an important Inca pilgrimage site. The scenery was amazing (the ruins, ehh) but our best time on the island happened after dinner. It was pitch black, we didn’t see another soul, and we were navigating the rocky path back to our guesthouse with headlamps. The sky was completely clear and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many stars, or seen the milky way so clearly. The following day we took the boat back to Copacabana and grabbed an afternoon bus to Puno, Peru, on the other side of the lake.