Isla Del Sol: northern end hike
We did a good thorough hike of Isla Del Sol this morning, from south to north, and we saw the ancient ruins and rock carvings at the northern end of the island. It started out being just myself, Chris, Pascale, and Tony; but we ended up being joined by Ralph, two Kiwis, and two Americans along the way.
After leaving our guesthouse from last night, and tucking in to a good 'ol breakfast, we set off on the hike. We got slightly lost heading out of the (southern-end) village — went one block too far — but we quickly got back on track, and then headed across some fields towards the highest hill on the island. Met a friendly llama in a field along the way.
The highest hill on the island is a bit off the main track; but it's worth the (small) detour, as it offers amazing 360° views from the top. You can see almost the whole expanse of the island to the north; the village and mainland peninsula to the south; the gorgeous, snow-capped mountains of the Cordillera Real to the east; and Peru in the distance to the west. And lots and lots of lake in all directions.
From there, we cut across country a bit, until we got back down to the main north-south track on the island, which is actually a very nice, paved stone path. We should have gone cross-country just a little bit further; because we re-joined the path just before the gate where we had to pay an "entrance fee" of Bs. 10 for the northern end of the island. They do love their little "fees" and "taxes" here in Bolivia :P.
We continued north along the main thoroughfare of the island for about 2 hours, enjoying the constant fresh air and great scenery along the way. Then, we reached the end of the path, where we found ourselves at the ruins of the northern end of the island. As with the southern ruins, they ain't anything mind-blowing; but at least we weren't hounded by people wanting to "guide" us at this end.
The most famous thing on the north end of Isla Del Sol is the "puma rock". There's a big rock wall, with a funny-shaped kind of indent in it. According to archaeologists, the indent is in the shape of a puma, if you look at it from the right angle. If you ask me, it's a bit of a stretch of the imagination, seeing a puma in there. Anyway, judge for yourselves if it looks like a puma or not:
See the puma?
There were several large groups at the northern ruins, being guided around, and having everything explained to them in great detail. As for me and my crowd, we just wandered around, checking out the puma thing, and having a look at the ruined buildings to the north of it. The buildings are actually quite cool to explore: they form a bit of a labyrinth, and you can get a bit lost crawling through all the tiny doors, and checking out what's inside everywhere.
Northern ruins of Isla Del Sol.
After exploring a bit, relaxing a bit, and snacking a bit, we continued on our merry way, down the path that snakes back around south, to one of the villages near the northern end of the island. There, we got a bite to eat, and eventually managed to grab a boat back down to the southern end.