No, we didn’t hop over to Copacabana beach in Rio; Copacabana is the first town you pass through crossing the Bolivian border from Puno. Bolivia is the 46th country we’ve been in since leaving the States in May 2013, so we feel like we’re starting to make progress on this “seeing the world” thing. Overall, it’s Mark’s 91st country while I’m now at 88 countries though we have a tentative plan for me catching up later this year.It’s definitely something of a backpacker tourist city, an easy stop off between Puno and La Paz. The downside of backpacker world is that there was a real dearth of good restaurants. The upside is that you’re more likely to meet interesting people, and on a couple occasions we did so. One fun couple we met, Law & Meg, are veteran travelers and we had a great dinner one night comparing travel stories. Law – who’s spent part of his life as both a rock musician and an actor – said he’d never met anyone who’d been to more countries than his 81, and here he was with two people who’d beat him. Of course, we have a couple decades on him so he may well pass us up some day. And Meg? Well, like us she has no permanent home. She travels. And she claims to be in the Army Reserves though Mark & I weren’t absolutely certain she wasn’t Cameron Diaz; I might have to see the two of them in the same place at the same time to be certain. Fun night!
This was our third stop on Lake Titicaca and it was truly the highlight. Unlike Puno, the main part of the town here is right on the lake, and on a beautiful piece of it. We had the good fortune of brilliant blue skies which, combined with the thin air at 12,500 feet above sea level and the amazing blue waters of Titicaca, made for some amazing views. The water is just unbelievably blue and clear. And with the hills and Andes all around it’s a pretty amazing place.
In the town itself there isn’t a lot to do. Cerro Calvario (Calvary Hill) sits just northwest of the town and, at 13,010 feet makes a pleasant hike with great views of the city. The next day I decided to just take off on my own up the hills east of Copa; when I reached the end of the trail I just continued up to about 13,700 feet with a great view of the city and lake. It was about as quiet as you can imagine up there.
Part of the interesting thing is that over a couple weeks now that we’ve been high in the Andes you really can adjust to the thin air. A few years ago when we hiked the Inca Trail the highest pass we crossed was at about 14,000 feet and it damn near killed me; at this point those heights are challenging but not that difficult.The real highlight of Copa, though, was a day trip out to Isla del Sol, Island of the Sun, where Incan legend has it the sun itself was born. There are a few little villages on the island, but the highlight for us was the north-to-south trail that runs maybe eight miles along the spine of the island, affording the intrepid hiker with some pretty amazing views. It included an overly long two-hour boat ride both out and back, but the hike was more than worth it. Interestingly, Mark & I had both recently had some questions about our ability to keep hiking like this. He’d had some problem with his knee recently, and I had that ugly recurrence of a pinched nerve. In his case whatever was bothering his knee was gone, and in my case the miracle-working neurologist from Puno was, well, a miracle worker. I’m healed again, and an eight-mile hike up around 13,000 feet is pretty solid evidence. Yay!
If we had it to do again we’d probably have spent less time on Isla Suasi – it was lovely and relaxing but not as exciting – and left time to spend a night or two on Isla del Sol. We’ll keep that in mind the next time we come to Lake Titicaca. For now it’s on to La Paz, Bolivia’s capital city.