I would have loved to have hiked all of the trails on Isla Del Sol but that would have required staying overnight on the island. While there were accommodation options available (even places with hot showers!), we just weren’t up for it. There may be organised tours available that would present better options for a one day hike but this was the best and cheapest option that we could find without joining a tour.
Isla Del Sol is considered to be the birthplace of the sun in Incan legend and is well worth the visit if you’re visiting Bolivia. Lake Titicaca is much more impressive when seen from the island and/or a boat (as opposed to the experiencing it solely from the surrounding towns). The views from the track and the Chincana ruins themselves are absolutely amazing!
On arrival at Cha’llapampa, you will probably be approached by people offering to be guides but we didn’t come across any English-speaking guides so unless you understand Spanish, hiring a guide wont be worth your while. If you study the map above to figure out how to get from the jetty at Cha’llapampa to the beach on the opposite side of the peninsula then you should be fine to figure out the rest of the way (from memory there was no signage). After crossing the beach you will walk up a hill to a gate where there will be someone selling tickets for 10 Bolivianos per person (make sure you keep your ticket as you may be asked for it again at the ruins).
The track is rough and rocky but we wouldn’t have found it too challenging if it weren’t for the effects of altitude. We had been travelling at altitude for about a week before, so we were fairly well acclimatised but we still struggled with breathing. As a result, we were very slow and didn’t get to spend much time at the ruins before we had to turn around. Obviously if you walk faster, you will have more time.
There is at least one shop selling water, Gatorade and softdrinks in Cha’llapampa. At the time of our visit, there were ladies selling “papas fritas” (hot potato chips) at the dock but I would definitely suggest you bring your own food for the trip.
Length (km): 6 km
Time (hrs/min): 2 hrs
Return / Circuit / One-Way / Partial Circuit: Return
Region: Isla Del Sol (Lake Titicaca, Bolivia)
Closest Town: Cha’llapampa
Maximum Elevation: approx. 3917 m (according to MapMyHike.com)
Total Ascent: approx. 115 m (according to MapMyHike.com)
Further Info: Wikipedia: Isla Del Sol
Getting There: You can purchase boat tickets for Isla Del Sol from Copacabana, either from one of the towns many tour agencies or from the booth near the jetty at the end of the main tourist strip (we bought ours there as we thought it might be cheaper – 30 Bolivianos per person).
Arrangements seem to vary so you may find a different itinerary but we departed Copacabana at 8am for a very long, slow ride to Cha’llapampa (at the North end of Isla Del Sol) and from there we were given just over two hours to make it back (to the drop-off point).
The boat also stopped at Yumani (at the south end of the island), so we had the option to walk all the way there to meet the boat. However, we were worried that we might not make it on time. From here the boat returned to Copacabana at about 5:30pm (via a dodgy floating reed-island created for tourists – to see the real ones visit Uros from Puno in Peru).
Have you visited Isla Del Sol? If you have any stories, updates or corrections, please let us know by commenting below.