Though only a short distance by boat from Copacabana, Isla del Sol feels altogether different. The land, water and sky have a quiet almost serene beauty and this is a fitting site for the Inca creation legend. A sacred rock is worshipped as the birthplace of Manco Kapac and Mama Ocllo, son and daughter of Viracocha and the first Incas. There are many beautiful walks through villages and Inca terraces, some of which are still in use. You could easily stay to relax for a few days (there is plenty of accommodation) yet many visitors go just for one day, either briskly striding the length of the island from north to south between boats, or visiting only sites at the south end at a more leisurely pace.
Unfortunately, the growing number of tourists concentrated along the most popular trails and sites has had a negative impact. Note that water, although plentiful, may have to be hauled up by donkey from the lake; don’t waste and make sure to take all your trash back with you to the mainland. The many craft vendors and beggars, both adults and children, are reportedly very persistent.
By Bolivian standards, Isla del Sol is intensively populated and cultivated, and so is covered in trails. The west side is far less cultivated and inhabited and has the highest point on the island. The most impressive ruins are at the far north at Chincana. It is possible to arrange for your boat from Copacabana to take you there and then walk back across the island to be picked up at the Inca steps at the other end, where there are a second set of ruins (much more visited) at Pilcocaina and the Inca Spring. Walking from one end of the island to the other takes three to five hours. The 1:50,000 scale IGM map Copacabana 5745-I covers most of the island as well as the Yampupata Peninsula (above).
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