Posted by: HelenRortvedt | 24 November 2008

Birthplace of the Sun

According to Quechua and Aymara legend, it was here, on the Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) in the southern (and Bolivian) end of Lake Titicaca, where the bearded God-King Viracocha first appeared and commanded the Sun and the Moon to be born.  The first Quechua people, Mano Capac and Mama Ocllo were also born on this island.

Legends aside, Isla del Sol is one of those rare places on Planet Earth that just commands respect, humility, and reverence.  It has a certain energy about it, rather indescribable, but extraordinarily tangible in sitio. It was (and remains) an important pilgrimage site for the Quechuas (Incas), Aymaras and travelers alike.


Lake Titicaca with the Cordillera Real in the background. Bolivia. Mind-bogglingly beautiful.


Bolivia lost its access to the sea to Chile over 100 years ago, but they still maintain a Navy that patrols the waters of Lake Titicaca.  Nevertheless, it’s funny to see young Bolivians in Sailor uniforms!


Ch’allapampa is the second largest community on the Isla del Sol.  It sits on this narrow isthmus near the north end of the island.


Where the two paths around the island converge at the north end.


The Incan ruins on Isla del Sol, also known as “The Labyrinth” are perfectly situated to watch the sun set towards Peru.



Life is just good sometimes. Our shirts (yes, we know they match) say “Jallalla”, which is the Aymara term for “Cheers!” or “Life!”


Diana, Russ, Tiffany and I taking it all in.


On the boat ride from the north to the south end of the island.


Yumani is the largest community on the Isla. Also the most touristed. We preferred the tranquility of the north end of the island, but did eat the best pizza in all of Bolivia here in Yumani! Las Velas! Go, if you find yourself on Isla del Sol. You won’t regret it!


Friends are so great. Especially the great ones! 🙂 Thanks for all the good times, D! I love you.


The cathedral in Copacabana, on the mainland shore of Lake Titicaca.


Copacabana from a distance. Lago Titicaca in the background.

Did you know?! The name, Lake Titicaca is not in fact a reference to breasts and human waste, but rather a Spanish mispronunciation of the Aymara words Thiti Kharka.  Roughly translated into English it means “Rock of the Puma”, which can be found on the Isla del Sol.  The legends associated with the Isla del Sol, and the physical places on the island that represent their incarnation are what gave the entire lake its name. Pretty cool, huh?



  1. Seeing your photos of Copacabana reminds me of seeing the Bolivian “navy” in 1974 on the ferry crossing from Copacabana to the mainland.

  2. oh man, i am just gonna pretend you didn’t tell me what titicaca actually means!
    happy early turkey day, helen!!

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