September 13, 2015
Having two nights and one full day on the island, we planned to take the ferry from Yumani in the south to Challapampa in the north, visit the ruins and then take the high trail that crosses along the spine of the island back to Yumani. This can also be done as a day trip from Copacabana, but you do need to watch your time to be sure to catch the last ferry back to the main land, 4PM at the time of writing.
Neither one of us slept well. The island sits at just below 13,000ft and although we had been acclimatizing for several weeks that little extra altitude still makes a difference.
We felt better after breakfast and went down to the dock to catch the 10AM ferry heading north.
On the way to the dock we passed through the Inka Fuente and terraced gardens, pretty and mildly interesting if you are at the dock but not worth an extra trip.
Unlike the day before, the ferry heading north (20 boliviano) wasn’t crowded at all. We sat up top and took in the views.
It was turning into a beautiful crisp day with bright blue skies and water.
After reaching Challapampa at about 10:30AM we headed further north to the ruins, supposedly the most impressive on the island.
The 45 minute trail starts at the beach on the other side of the narrow town. There are no signs indicating the route. Just follow the crowd of day trippers and you’ll find it.
You’ll pass a couple of check points where you can buy the 10 boliviano ticket for the ruins. Actually there were a number of places on the island where we were obligated to pay an entrance fee, usually 10 to 15 boliviano ($2 US), when crossing into a new community.
The sites at the northern point of the island include – the mirador – viewpoint,
the sacrificial mesa – may be where the Inkas did sacrifices,
the sacred rock
and the Chincana labyrinth. All are pretty small, close together and can be visited in a short period of time. If you want information about the sites it’s best to get a guide as there is no information onsite, not even a sign indicating the name of the place.
There are, however, island maps placed at strategic locations along the trail.
Heading back towards Yumani, the high trail climbs up from the sacrificial mesa and continues across the spine of the island.
It’s a wide, well graded track that looks more like a road than a trail. On a Sunday afternoon there were lots of tourists walking back to Yumani to catch the 4PM ferry.
Views from the trail are expansive and pretty but the scenery remains pretty much the same from one end of the island to the other. Walking slowly due to the altitude it took us about 2.5 hours to reach the Palla Khasa Eco Lodge, another half hour back down to the dock.