One of the most magical places I have visited in the world is the Island of the Sun on Lake Titicaca. The Incas knew it as the birthplace of the sun, and it’s easy to see why – the sunset over the Chicana ruins, which look over to the border of Peru across the lake is the most breathtaking sight, a seamless transition from pink sky to merging layers of clouds, mountains and sea, dotted with black islands.
From Copacabana we caught a little boat to La Isla del Sol and circled the island from Yumani and Challa to Challapampa, a secluded, beautifully untouched little village on a narrow spit. Pigs greeted us off the boat, and we walked through streets flanked by little mud huts, flowers and tethered donkeys and crossed the beach, where a peasant woman was tying up her brightly coloured boat to a dock half-sunk in the water.
We walked up an ancient stone path, frequently stopping for wizened old shepherds in ponchos to guide their sheep, cows and baby donkeys past us and along the path through maize and potato fields stretching down to the sparkling bay. We reached the Chicana labyrinth, an intricately linked group of rooms and corridors where the virgins of the sun once stored holy maize and perfomed rites to the sun, and looked across to the Peruvian mountains before the sun set over the island, lighting everything in gold.