Taking a boat out to visit Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) and Isla de la Luna (Island of the Moon) on Lake Titicaca in Bolivia is truly fascinating. The islands have many interesting ruins that pre-date the Inca empire and have been dated back to as far as 300 BC. The ruins are mostly of temples, but people lived on the islands as well. Island of the Sun is the larger of the two islands and there are even hotels where you can spend the night if you would like. If you just want to tour the islands and return to the town of Copacabana on the same day, it will take you about four to six hours.
We did a three day tour from La Paz, the capital of Bolivia, where we first visited the ruins of Tiwanaku before continuing on to Copacabana where we stayed at a hotel that overlooked the Lake Titicaca. The following morning we rose early to take a rented boat out to visit the islands. We visited Isla de la Luna first where we were greeted by some local women selling souvenirs as well as a very friendly llama. The views of the ruins with the lake in the background were simply amazing. We were able to walk through the ruins and see them first hand, which made the experience even more interesting.
From Isla de la Luna, we continued on to Isla del Sol where we continued to tour ruins that are in excellent shape considering their age. Inside of one of the temples, there were coca leaves left on an altar by people hoping to receive blessings from the gods. Looking back towards the Island of the Moon from the shores of the Island of the Sun, its smaller size becomes quite apparent. We did not stay the night on the island, but instead returned to Copacabana, but we understand that they do reenactments of the Incan ceremonies on the island at night if you do decide to stay.
We saw many different ruins during our time in Bolivia, but certainly the ones on Isla del Sol and Isla de la Luna were among the most interesting. It was also a refreshing break from the busy city to stay a couple of nights with beautiful sunsets and wonderful views. It took us about eight hours to reach Copacabana from La Paz, but that included a couple of hours touring Tiwanaku and a stop for lunch. It also included a ferry ride across part of Lake Titicaca in order for our van to make its way to the lake. It was definitely one of our favorite tours while we were in Bolivia.
During our trip to Ecuador, we stayed at the Napo Wildlife Center in the Amazon Rainforest. Considering that we were deep in the Yasuni National Park and far away from any city, the amenities at the lodge were actually very nice. We had hot water, plenty of fresh food cooked three times a day, and even a fully stocked bar. There was also Wi-Fi, but it was a little spotty and didn’t always work. The lodge and bungalows sit on the shore of Añangu Lake and we had to paddle in canoes for a couple of hours to reach the lake from the river.
One of the nice features of the ecolodge is the observation deck. There are several levels of the tower, each with a different view of the canopy. We enjoyed a beautiful sunset on our first night there and could often hear the howler monkeys all around. Sitting on the upper decks of the tower was a wonderful way to find a bit of a breeze and beat a little of the intense jungle heat. There was also some native art on display as well as a library if you were interested in doing some reading. We were often too tired from a day of trekking in the jungle to do much other than eat and sleep.
If you wanted to enjoy the sounds of the lake, there were plenty of lounge chairs in the boathouse, but swimming was not an option as caiman could often be seen near the shores of the lake. If that isn’t enough to keep you from jumping into the lake, anaconda snakes were also known to be in the area. Not every animal was threatening, though, we were constantly being serenaded by birds and they could always be found in the trees outside of our hut.
If anyone is planning on going to the Yasuni National Park in Ecuador, we would highly recommend staying at the Napo Wildlife Center. Run by the local Amazon tribe that owns the lodge, they make every effort to ensure that your stay is pleasurable while providing daily tours that truly emerse you into the jungle.
There probably isn’t anything more relaxing than getting away from the crowds and walking around a lake in the mountains with no one else around. With temperatures heating up, we are enjoying hiking once again and the higher altitudes mean more comfortable weather. We really enjoy this trail, which is one of our favorites, as we are able to make it as long or as short of a hike as we would like. We went on a weekday afternoon so that we could avoid the crowds and truly immerse ourselves into nature.
The trail is located about 20 minutes from our house and takes you past a couple of reservoirs. The first part of the trail is relatively steep, but then it somewhat flattens out. As we always say, you can’t go hiking in the mountains without expecting some difficult terrain. There are often people fishing in the lakes or sitting on the shore enjoying a picnic. It certainly made for a relaxing afternoon and a good way to start getting back into hiking shape. We are planning to get on a trail again this weekend, but this time we expect to choose a trail that we’ve never hiked before.