Sun Island (Isla del Sol)
Sun Island (Isla del Sol) is the largest of the lake islands on Lake Titicaca, and with welcoming guest houses and hostels, travelers have many options to stay overnight to maximize the experience. With dramatically sculpted terrain, some 800 families live here amongst 180 pre-Columbian ruins, ancient hiking trails, and a small museum with fascinating artifacts.
The village of Yumani is located on the south side of the island and is the largest and most developed settlement. From here, ancient stone and dirt trails lead to ruins such as the Inca seminary, an enormous stone labyrinth called the Chinkana, and the ornate Temple of Pilcocaina. Don’t miss the sunsets from the lighthouse on the island’s highest point.
Cha’llapampa, on the northern side, travelers may visit a little museum with artifacts recovered from the lake including pottery, stone boxes, and solid gold and silver figurines of both Tiwanaku and Inca origin. Trails connect Yumani and Cha’llapampa, along the way passing terraced hillsides, pristine beaches, sprawling eucalyptus trees and cacti.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Be sure to check itineraries for the boats as they may change.
- Bring Peruvian Nuevos Soles for the round-trip boat ride (change and small bills).
- Small local-owned guest houses, hostels, cottages, and restaurants offer spartan but clean accommodations and homemade food.
- With no cars allowed, the island’s main sites are accessed by foot, via a network of rocky trails that go from one side of the island to the other.
- Island of the Moon (Isla de la Luna), which has ancient sacred temples, is accessible by boat from Sun Island.
How to Get There
Sun Island is a Bolivian island in Lake Titicaca, which is located on the border between northern Bolivia and southern Peru. Daily boats depart the Bolivian lakeside town of Copacabana around 8:30am or 1:30pm to Yumani village on the south side (about 1.5 hours) and Cha’llapampa village on the north side about 2 hours).
When to Get There
Lake Titicaca (and Sun Island) are accessible year-round, but the most pleasant time to visit in terms of weather is from February through November, when days are spring-like with virtually no rain. December and January are usually quite rainy. The lake is 12,4673 feet (4,800 meters) above the sea-level, which means nights can get chilly during any time of the year.
The Legend of the Sun God
According to Incan lore, following a great flood, Lake Titicaca was plunged into a long period of darkness, and after many days, the bearded god Viracocha rose from the water and traveled the island, and not only commanded the sun to rise, but created the world’s first two Inca: Manco Capac and Mama Ocllo, the Adam and Eve of the Andes.