Having finally acquired legal entry into Bolivia, I decided to take advantage of my passport stamping detour to Copacabana and explore the trail around Isla del Sol. My now long-time bike adventure advisor Steve Garro had suggested I give it a look-see, and his advice has never landed flat thus far. So I strapped the bike onto the back of a small tourist boat and headed for the island.
Upon reaching the Northern shores, I saw various hotel and hospedaje options, but didn’t want to spend the money. Some folks told me it was okay to camp on the beach, but I didn’t see any other tents upon arrival. Luckily I saw a couple sitting on the beach next to their bike panniers… We shared some food for a while and they told me they’d left their bikes on the mainland to hike the trail the next day. Similarly shoestring oriented, we wandered up the hillside to the local homes hoping someone might be kind enough to let us set up tents on their land. As the trail leveled and the fantastic lakeside views opened above the adjacent hillside, a lone brick structure hung somewhat precariously over the steep slope. We peered into the side window to realize it was still under construction and was an open floorspace inside. Perfectly, the builder happened to wander down from his main home up the hill to say hello, and offered us to sleep on the floor inside. Excellent! We gathered together a little money in appreciation of his kindness, then gazed out, knowing our simple shelter had the most unobstructed view in town!
I hike up to the top of the nearby hillside to get a perfect sunset view, looking back down at the small town and beach. This place was gorgeous.
Gazing across Titicaca to the Cordillera Real, the largest and tallest mountain range in Bolivia.
Someone on the beach had an old Bolivian hiking trails guide. Perfect for navigating the island trail.
The following morning I stowed my stuff by the owner’s house and set off to attempt riding the ancient Aymara trail around Isla del Sol. Different than any terrain I’d ridden so far in Peru or Bolivia, the North coast of the island was almost all rock. Super fun technical riding on ancient trails.
The occasional ruin would greet my entry as the trail continued to the Northern tip of the island.
While the main tourist trail curved South via a set of climbing staircases. I found an old trail that cut North…
Eventually the North trail connected back to the main trail which essentially mounted the spine of the island. Aside from the occasional staircase it was as smooth as a road.
Lots of opportunities for single track side trips…
… with their associated staircases. Fun!
The trail eventually dropped to the island’s Southern hamlet.
Following the trail back to the North it turns back to solid rock, impressively carved into the steep slope.
A second glorious sunset view from my little brick shack.
The next morning I loaded the bike back up on a small boat and we were slowly carried back to Copacaba. good talks with these two locals, heading back to Copacabana for supplies.
I rolled out of Copacabana the next morning after a lovely night at a lakeshore campground. Next stop, the treacherous single track of Sorata!!!