Tag Archives: sunset

Isla de Sol and Copacabana

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Shimmery glittery glazed sunshine upon the worlds largest and highest Lake, Lake Titicaca. Swarmed by white mountain tops and fluttery joyful birds, Inca ruins, lazy talking llama and sheep-filled fields, the Isla de Sol ¨Island of Sun¨ was a nice break in between two cities, not too expensive and so different than anything else I have seen on my travels.

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The town of Copacabana is where you can leave for the Isla de Sol tour. The town itself has one small touristy street, 6th de Augusto and this can be easily avoided. I stayed at a nice hostel, Sonia Hostel, for $30 ($2 USD) Bolivianos for a private room.

Copacabana is on a little peninsula and you can see the lake from all sides of town. There are tons of sites to see and things to do for day hikes, including one that was 3 hours along the lake. There are ruins in town, and rock carvings, Inca seats where supposidly the Inca empire would sit out and view the lake, and tons of great places to enjoy the views. I did a lot of exploring.

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The first day I was there I decided to go to the ruins around Copacabana and go to all the mirradors, where surprisingly I did not see a soul in sight. I think most people only stay one night and go straight to the island. Here at the top of this look out point there were 3 rocks that were used by the Incas to navigate the stars and decide when the seasons would change. The rocks are still there.

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Llama encounter! The Spanish word for Llama is Alpaca and they are all over Bolivia. What I didn’t know is that they can spit, they have an incredible range for spitting at tourists, especially when they are pissed off. I tried not to get too close but they just look so regal and feminine  I could not help myself!

To get to the Island of Sun there are little boats that go really slow about 3 hours to the North or South end of the Island. It was incredible, named this because the Incas believed that the island was where the sun came from. They also believed that another island just off the Isla de Sol was where the moon came from. Many say the birthplace of the Inca Empire was founded here as well.

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These islands are situated in the middle of this gorgeous lake that almost looks like an ocean because it just keeps going as far as you can see. It’s stunning landscape and turquoise shores remind me of Greece. Is this really Bolivia?

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I’ve been warned about Copacabana- “Don’t go there or the island of the sun, it’s too touristic!” And like I always say, don’t believe everything you hear try it out for yourself.

Copacabana is where all the Isla de Sol boats leave from. The town I will admit is touristy but you can get around it but not going down 6 de Augusto where you are bombarded by people selling bus tickets and telling you to eat in their restaurants. You can avoid it!

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I didn’t want to go from one big city to another so I decided to take my chances on it. This place was definitely worth visiting and Isla de Sol, Island of the Sun was one highlight of my trip. The island was touristy on the south end where people can stay…but nothing compared to what I have been warned about.

I met a man from New Zealand, Mark, and we explored the island through 4 hours of walking discovering ruins, a sacrifice table, and hundreds of lookouts out onto the bright blue water.

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There were three check points where you have to buy a ticket and the money goes to the local community. I was fine with this but it was the children you have to watch out for. They will take a look into your bag at the quickest chance they can. They also ask for money or candy. This was the first time I had seen children like this, interesting to say the least.

I stayed the night on the island, watched the sun set and then woke up at 6:00am for the sunrise over the Island of the Moon. The contrast was just stunning and so breathtaking I did not mind waking up so early!

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Here are the friends I met while on the Island. The boat ride was just beautiful and so lovely to chat with friends and get out of the city. I could not believe how beautiful it was there.

The boat ride there is super slow and was $20 Bolivianos ($2.9 USD) and back was $20 Bolivianos as well.

Salento Sunset, Valley de Corcoa, Colombia

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My second time to Corcoa Valley where the wax palms and fog live.

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Sure enough, some yoga poses and a couple minutes later the clouds part and just a speck of the sunshine hits the valley. The most picture perfect lighting on the lime green hills. The sun behind the clouds made for the perfect sunset. We watched for the next two hours and sat in silence taking in every inch of energy that the mountains gave us. It was absolutely stunning.

Five of us decided to go on the adventure to see the sunset. We heard it’s a good show.

I have done the full 5/6 hour hike but this time we decided to do the tail end, the best part, and watch the sun go down in the valley. Typically this area is covered in fog, so we were hoping for the best around 615pm.

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Corcora Valley is a $3,200 COP, $1.60 USD to take a jeep into the Valley. You get off at a small bus stop and start the hike. The path to the right leads to the hummingbird farm and the waterfall, about a 5/6 hour hike. It’s a loop that goes along a river and then into the mountain. It ends in the valley where the palms, horses and cows are.

We decided to go left, to catch the end of the hike and it’s just about an hour where you have to dodge horses and people descending the hike. We arrived at the lookout point, a little nook of green grass at the top of the mountain overlooking at 360 view of the valley, and we were an hour ahead of schedule. The fog completely filled the valley. “Darn it! Maybe it will clear up” we thought.

As we descended we got lucky and caught a jeep back for the same price $3,200 COP, $1.60 USD. They usually stop at 5pm and we caught one magically at 730pm. Great timing right, a family was getting done with work and we caught a ride with them.

I have to make this hike again before I leave. I heard there is also a 3 to 4 day hike into the same valley that is supposed to be worth doing. Falling in love with Salento more and more each day.

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At the end of the journey the jeep dropped us off in town, and we drank delicious Colombian coffee from the land at Jesus Martin, a highly recommended coffee shop in the central downtown. The cappuccinos are to die for, and the artwork to top doesn’t hurt as well!

Back to the Mountains, Salento

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Magical mountains, birds singing a symphony of songs, delicate raging rivers, potent flowers shining in the sun and shades of varadescent greens cover the rolling hills in this story book land. Salento, Colombia is one of the most beautiful places I have seen on my journey thus far. I forgot how beautiful the mountains are.

In Salento there is the most gorgeous hike that I’ve ever been on. It’s called Valley de Cocora and it’s about 45 minutes $3,500 COP ($1.70 USD) out of Salento. It’s free to do and about 6-7 hours to do the whole loop. There is even a hummingbird farm! This hike was stunning: tiny path lined with wax palms, mysterious clouds thickly wet with dew, the occasional cow, waterfall after waterfall, and rolling hill after rolling hill.

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There was one mountain that was later than the others, and the clouds would creep slowly up it, and then spiral down the side. I’ve never seen anything like it, I felt as I had fallen asleep in a fairy tale and awoken to a new world.

After traveling almost 3 months on the coast I forgot how wonderful the mountains are. Going from 90 degree heat to rain and lucious trees has made me appreciate the qualities of both landscapes. Colombia is so diverse and colorful, every place is so distinctly different.

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To get to Salento from Manizales you can go to Pereira or Armenia. Both are easy and both will get you to salento. I chose to go through Peridea. It was $8,000 COP ($4.00 USD). It was about 1 hour bus ride. From that terminal I got another bus to Salento. It was just a 45 minute bus ride for $8,000 COP ($4.00 USD). It’s a short ride and easy to catch from Peridea. The weekend schedule is different from the weekday schedule so make sure you check before you go.

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