Isla del Sol and the Staircase of Doom

This post could also be titled “From Awful to Wonderful”, as it was a day that started very poorly and ended somewhere between ‘awesome’ and ‘amazing’.

Keener that I am, I got up at 6am to have an early breakfast and then catch the first ferry across Lake Titicaca from Copacabana. Except this clever traveler did not find out in advance that nothing opens until 8am in Copacabana. I moped for awhile on the sidewalk. While moping, I was horrified to see a taxi run over one of the local stray dogs right in front of me. The dog’s leg was broken and the cab sped away. A mob of other dogs then attacked the injured one, chasing down a back alley. Quite a traumatizing start to the day.

Breakfast did nothing to improve my spirits. My 3-day old dry white bread, congealed red jam and goopy neon yellow butter were laced with live ants.

I was only too happy to escape these events by boarding the 8am ferry to Isla del Sol, a large island in the center of Lake Titicaca. It was turning into a beautiful sunny day and my excitement grew as Isla del Sol loomed on the horizon.

Isla del Sol, Lake Titicaca

As we pulled into the harbour, I could not help but notice the massive hillside in front of us. And that is when I saw it… the Staircase of Doom.


This is only a fraction of the staircase that ascended the steep cliff to the many hostels of the south side of the island. These rock hewn stairs were both disheartening and intimidating. Especially at 4000m above the sea. My already oxygen-deprived lungs shuddered. As it turns out, the way up was nothing compared to my way back down the next morning, when it was hailing and the stairs were half-flooded. That was a mess.

Still, 30 minutes of huffing and puffing later, I reached the top and collapsed on the terrace of Hosteria Las Islas, which had a view so spectacular that I forgot about the ants in my breakfast, the run-over dog and the staircase of doom.


I spent the afternoon tramping around the island trails. I couldn’t get enough of the fantastic views of the lake. My camera got even more of a work out than my lungs…

Isla del Sol

Beer o’clock

Many people only go to Isla del Sol as a day trip, which is a real shame. As I watched the moon rise over the lake, with a storm coming in from the south and lightning flashing over the mountains across the water, I patted myself on the back for opting to stay overnight.

Worth it.

4 thoughts on “Isla del Sol and the Staircase of Doom

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