Ultimate Guide to Isla Del Sol Lake Titicaca

A beautiful island on Lake Titicaca, Isla Del Sol is not one to miss on your trip to Bolivia. With both Inca Ruins, perfect blue waters and stunning hilly scenery it will be one of your highlights during your trip to Bolivia.

isla del sol lake titicaca ruins
Chinkana ruins with a view

I visited Isla Del Sol on Lake Titicaca in May 2022 and had an absolutely great time. I spent just a day on the island and to be honest, I wish I had spent a night there (to be discussed later!). When I was in Peru, I stayed on Amantani island and although the islands are both on Lake Titicaca, they are very different!

About Isla Del Sol

Isla Del Sol or ‘Island of the Sun’ was very special to the Incan People. There are over 80 sites of Incan Ruins on the island. The islands dramatic hills make it a brilliant place to hike on as well as the fact that there are no cars on the island either! Apparently there is evidence that people lived on the island as far back as the 3rd Millenium BC – mind boggling!

isla del sol lake titicaca beach
North Island Beach

Isla del Sol is located on Lake Titicaca which at approximately 4000m of altitude is the highest navigable lake in the world. As well as this, it is the biggest lake in South America. Lake Titicaca is both within Peru and Bolivia. For me it was so big I sometimes felt like I was looking out to sea. Are you convinced yet? You should be.

How to get to Isla Del Sol

Isla Del Sol is only accessible by boat from Copacabana town. Although this distance is not that far, the boats are slow moving. To get to the north of the island the boat to 2 hours from Copacabana. The return journey from the south of the island took 1.5 hours. But the boat is relaxing and you can sit on the deck and chill out!

hills on isla del sol
Hills of Isla Del Sol

You might think that going from one of the Peruvian Islands on Lake Titicaca to Isla del Sol is possible, sadly it is not. You must cross the border on land next to Copacabana to change countries. The easiest way to get to Copacabana in Bolivia is from Puno in Peru by bus. The bus ride from La Paz to Copacabana is also very frequent and takes about 3 hours.

Boat Tickets from Copacabana to Isla Del Sol

So here is when you should learn from my errors, I did it so you didn’t have to, ha! When talking to boat operators the night before my visit, they informed me that the boat that went to the north left at 9.30am and the bus that went to the south of the island left at 8.30am. (I knew that I wanted to spend the day walking from the north to the south of the island starting at the north side).

However, when I arrived at the port at 9am the boat drivers promptly told me that there was a boat to the north of the island at 8.30am. Ahhh if only I could time travel. But then they said that there was still a boat to the north at 9.30 that I could jump on but that it is more complicated filling boats as there are not that many tourists. So I ended up getting on a boat at 9.30am that went directly to the north of the island. Are you confused? I think I am still confused.

border collie on boat
Made a flurry friend on the boat – it was very chill boat ride!

I paid 75 Bolivianos for the return ticket. Although friends I had made in my hostel told me they had paid 60 for theirs – never mind. The tickets included multiple stops at different ports; starting at Challapampa, then Challa, at Yumani port and finally at a floating restaurant. As well as this, the boat offers a Spanish speaking guide giving small bits of info at each point. I chose the option to do more of the visit on my own and walk between Challapampa and Yumani Port. The main thing was to make sure I was at the last stop of the day for a 15.30 depart back to Copacabana.

North/South Conflict on Isla Del Sol

Before visiting Isla Del Sol I had read a lot in either guide books or blogs that the north of the island had been closed. This was because of the debate between communities of who should get the money from tourist visits. However, during my visit in May 2022 the conflict seems to have been resolved. The whole island was open with no issues.

isla del sol lake titicaca water
The perfect waters of Lake Titicaca

Visiting Isla Del Sol Since Covid

I visited in May 2022, this was not the high season but the effects of lack of tourism due to covid was very visible. There were a large number of boats that were not in use and the boat drivers told us of difficulties being able to fill the boats up. As well as this, I saw many restaurants and lodges that had clearly closed down. If you are planning to stay on the island make sure to check in advance the accommodation you are aiming for is still open.

Boat ride lake titicaca
View from the boat ride

Walk from North to South of the Island Statistics

I tracked the hike on my watch from Challapampa, Chinkana and then to Yumani port. Here are the statistics:

  • 12km
  • It took me 3.5 hours (including breaks)
  • 400m of ascent in total

1 Day itinerary walking from North to South of the Island

Walk From Challapampa to Chinkana Ruins

The boat left Copacabana at 9.30am and arrived at Challapampa (in the North of the Island) at approximately 11.30am. This was the point when we said to our boat driver that we will not be following the boat tour of multiple stops and we would be walking ourselves. He assured us we must be back at Port Yumani in the south at 15.30 or he would go without us, thanks bud!

Landscape isla del sol
Stunning landscapes of Isla Del Sol

From Challapampa, I hiked up to the ruins of Chinkana. This was a 3km walk that was mostly up hill. The path takes you past bays of beautiful white beaches and small villages. The path is very clear from Challapampa and goes straight to the ruins.

Info: Although the paths are clear there are not many sign posts. To be certain you do not take any paths to lodges or houses I recommend downloading maps.me. (if you haven’t heard of maps.me it’s an offline map app which is so useful if you ever don’t have internet).

Path on isla del sol lake titicaca
The path from North to South of the Island

The ruins at Chikana were really beautiful with stunning views as a backdrop. I had read in guide books that the entry was 10 bolivianos but there wasn’t an entry fee when I visited.

Walk from Chinkana To Yumani Town

From here Chikana, I started the 9km walk to Yumani Port (the point at which the boat was collecting us). The walk itself was absolutely stunning. The path takes you along the ridge down the centre of the island. It was a variety of up and down which at an altitude of approximately 4000m was more challenging that it would be at sea level. I did the walk in trainers but would’ve preferred hiking boots as the path was quite uneven at times.

There were a small amount of stalls selling water and drinks along the way but they were few and far between. Make sure to bring water and maybe some snacks for the journey. There was no restaurants to eat between Yumani town.

Inca steps isla del sol
The Inca Steps

In Yumani town, there were many restaurants and cafes that looked lovely with outside seating and a lovely view. I would’ve loved to have lunch or a coffee in one of them but we did not have enough time as we needed to catch the boat.

Yumani Town to Yumani Port down the Inca Steps

Yumani town is located on top of the peak of the island, once you have reached Yumani town take the famous Inca steps down to Yumani port to catch the boat. I manged to grab a quick sandwich before jumping back on the boat. The boat then stopped at a floating restaurant on the island for 30 minutes before returning back to Copacabana. This seems to be a deal that lots of the boat companies have with the restaurant as I spoke to others that took different companies that did the same thing. From here we could see the ruins of Pilko Kaina.

floating restaurant isla del sol
Floating restaurant with a backdrop of ruins

Staying overnight on Isla Del Sol

To be honest, I regretted not staying 1 night on the island. The walk was stunning, and I am very glad that I did that rather than be taken from place to place by boat. I felt that the walk from North to South was more independent and free. However, due to the time pressure to be back to the boat I missed out on having a meal with a view as well as the Pilko Kaina ruins in the south (although I saw this from the floating restaurant).

My initial reason to not stay a night on Isla Del Sol was because I had already done this on Amantani Island on Lake Titicaca on the Peruvian side. However, the islands are so different and I would’ve appreciated more time on Isla Del Sol. Apparently the view of sunrise and sunset from the island is incredible too. Ahhh well, something to go back for!

floating restaurant isla del sol
The floating restaurant

If you learn from my mistakes and choose to stay a night on the island I recommend leaving your big luggage your accomadation in Copacabana. The boat drops you off at the port which is of course at the level of the water and the majority of the lodges are on the top of the hill. As I was walking down the Inca Steps in Yumani I saw many people coming up the other way with their big bags and they didn’t look that happy.

Don’t forget to bring with you

  • Suncream and sunhat! The sun at the altitude of Lake Titicaca is on another level!! Protect your skin from its harsh rays with some suncream.
  • During the hike there are not many shops so don’t forget to stock up on water and snacks either in Challapamba or on the mainland.

Thats The End of the Ultimate Guide to Isla Del Sol on Lake Titicaca

I hope you find this guide useful and you also have the best time in Isla Del Sol. Did you like the Island? Let me know about your time in the comments.

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