Towering some 4,000 meters (13,120 ft) above sea level (not lake level), Isla del Sol commands Titicaca as the largest and most popular island. Not only because of its close proximity to Copacabana (only an hour and a half on public boat), but more so due to gorgeous views and slightly magical sun rises and sets, tourists and the two and a half thousand residents rave about Isla del Sol as a place not to miss. The seriously sunny island provides perfect walking paths to see the large blue lake, neighboring islands and the not too far off Copacabana shoreline.
Long before it was a hub for pizza places and alpaca-printed sweaters, Isla del Sol was a sacred birthplace for the sun itself, and subsequently the first Inca people, Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo. The island was recognized then as the Rock of the Puma, or Titi Kharâ€™ka, the obvious origin of the great lakeâ€™s name, Titicaca. The beautiful and ancient ruins that dot the city date back to the Inca Empire, just adding to rich history Isla del Sol holds.
Nowadays, however, the island is home to three thriving indigenous communities. Lined north to south, Challapampa, Challa and Yumani are all quaint settlements, inviting to tourism but self-sustaining as well. Yumani is by far the most touristed, hosting an abundance of hotels and restaurants, though vistas from all of the settlements are breathtaking. As most travelers choose to stay in this southernmost community, the majority of public boats come straight into the port here.
Isla del Sol is best explored over a couple of days, though both more and less than that can get the job done. Ideally, a stay in Yumani (after the sweaty and steep climb up the Inca Steps) would lead to a walk of the entire island, and second night in Challapampa, the smallest of the three communities. If itâ€™s in the budget, from here you can do an afternoon trip to Isla de La Lunaâ€”just inquire at the dock how to commission a launcha, or speed boat, to the island. To get to the opposite end of the island or to the mainland you can catch a boat at Pilko Kaina in the south or near the Templo del Inca in the north.
For a half-day trip, consider a guided tour with one of the companies from Copacabana, or at least a walk up to Templo del Inca ruin complex. If itâ€™s in the itinerary to do more than two days, take your time and soak in the relaxation of these slow-paced communities, sunny days and windy nights. Try a night in each community, explore a couple of restaurant options and take advantage of the lovely walks just outside your door.
Neighborhoods in Isla del Sol: Yumani, Challa, Cha'llapampa, Cha'lla,
Other places nearby Isla del Sol: Isla de La Luna, Desaguadero, Huarina, Achacachi, Huatajata, Estrecho de Tiquina, Lake Titicaca, Puerto Perez, Puerto Acosta and Copacabana.