Sun Island & Lake Titicaca
Float on mystical waters to the birthplace of Inca civilisation
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The vast altiplano is where we find some of the most beautiful and often remote landscapes in South America, from glistening lagoons and sparkling salt flats to majestic Lake Titicaca.
Bolivia's border with Peru is dominated by Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world. Indigenous peoples still live around its shore and the Bolivian side boasts the Isla del Sol, known as the birthplace of the Inca Empire. The small town of Copacabana and its historic church make the perfect base from which to explore the lake, whilst the important ruins at Tiahuanaco are not too far away by road.
Around 100 miles or so north of the lake is La Paz, the world's highest capital city. This chaotic city is set within a huge canyon in the Andes Valley, backed by the often snow-capped peak of the Illimani volcano. It is a stunning location, best appreciated by a ride on the excellent cable car system which ferries its citizens around La Paz. It is also famous for its weird and wonderful witches market and for the nearby bizarre rock formations of Moon Valley.
Heading south we come to the small town of Uyuni. Whilst the town itself is fairly unremarkable, the thing that brings visitors here is the glistening white expanse of the Salar de Uyuni. Once a great pre-historic lake, the salt flats offer a unique and sometimes mind-boggling experience as perspectives and distances get warped by the lack of reference points. Miles upon miles of brilliant white salt are interrupted only by the occasional 'island' (such as the famous cacti-covered Isla de Pescados), whilst shadowy blue mountains linger someway in the distance. Here, something 40 miles away can look like a quick dash over the salt, whilst it is easy to find a spot with nothing on the horizon, perfect for the obligatory photos of you being chased by a giant dinosaur, or sitting in the palm of your fellow travellers' hand.
Between Uyuni and the Atacama Desert in Chile lies a scorched region of arid deserts, towering volcanoes, shimmering lagoons and lonely packs of llamas and flamingos. The Lagoons of southern Bolivia are generally classified by the apparent colour of their water; Laguna Verde (green), Laguna Blanca (white) or Laguna Colorada (red), or in the case of Laguna Hedionda, its smell. These are not always accurate descriptions, nor do they do justice to the extraordinary remote beauty to be found here, well off the beaten track and with few other tourists to share them with.
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