Of course I’d heard of Lake Titicaca but I wasn’t sure if it actually existed or where to find it, a bit like Timbuktu or Coventry. However, it turns out that not only does it exist, it does so in a stunning way.
Titicaca sits high up in the Andes mountains at 12,500 ft and at its longest stretch is 190 km long. It contains a number of islands that people continue to live on and some of those “islands” are made of reeds which float on the water.
The lake is plonked across the border of Peru and Bolivia. We decided to boat out to Isla del Sol from the Bolivian town of Copacabana – not the one from Barry Manilow’s classic hit, but weirdly, for a town thousands of feet above sea level, they have cultivated a little beach town vibe where Barry’s song wouldn’t be too out of place.
Isla del Sol is a proper island made out of rock and not one of the floating variety. There are about 800 people living on the island, farming the land and providing basic services to tourists like Maura and myself. The locals are as rustic as you could wish for, to the untrained eye they look as though they haven’t changed their lifestyles for centuries. The women wear traditional dress, with a hat firmly on at all times, even when coaxing laden donkeys and tired children up the steep sides of the island.
There are llamas waiting around corners to surprise you as you trek around the island, plus the aforementioned donkeys, the usual array of farm animals, some of which have the freedom of the island, and various birds of prey circling and swooping overhead, presumably eyeing up the tiny piglets wiggling about.
The real gem of this place is the expanse of beautiful blue water which has the sun beaming down on it all day. Add to this the backdrop of the Andes peaks and the feeling you can reach out and almost touch the thick blanket of stars in the evening and you’ve got yourself a place that feels quite mythical.