We stayed at CAPC Isla Suasi for just one night during our honeymoon. Initially I had hoped we could spend at least two nights given that the rest of our honeymoon itinerary was so hectic and Isla Suasi would be our last destination. But as it turned out, I was VERY glad that we only had to spend one night there.
Getting to Isla Suasi is not an easy matter. Though the island itself is less than a kilometer from the shore, it's from the opposite shore of Puno, meaning you have to cross the entire lake to get there. And if you haven't heard already, Titicaca is BIG. That said, getting there turned out to be the most interesting part of our visit. Though the Floating Islands are a tourist trap, it's fascinating to learn how the Uru people have lived in what is essentially a floating slum since even before the Inca Empire. I didn't find our next destination, Tequile Island, as interesting but we did get an introduction into the native inhabitant's daily lives and customs. After that, it was another couple hours or so to our final destination, Isla Suasi. The "speedboat" we were on was comfortable and they provided boxed snacks and water for us. Our guide for the boat trip and island visits was also pleasant and helpful in shuttling our (large) suitcases from place to place.
Upon arriving at Isla Suasi, I couldn't help but be struck by how beautiful it is. The water is crystal clear there (unlike the lake waters around Puno) and the rock formations are symbolic of the island's defiance of the inhospitable environment on this high-altitude lake. A small group of guests who had just checked out were boarding the same boat we had just left and wished us a good visit. The path from the pier is steep and the air is thin, so fortunately they had a golf cart to take us and our luggage to the lodge. We were introduced to our guide, Gilbert, and learned that aside from just one other man, we were the only guests in the entire resort. We also learned that there are no outlets in any of the rooms and that all guests must use just two communal outlets located in the lobby to charge any electrical devices. Given the lack of other guests, this didn't present any problem to us, but I imagine it could be a problem during peak times. Gilbert explained to us that there were a number of activities available to us: hiking, bird watching, canoeing, kayaking, star gazing, billiards, and massages. Most are included in the room rate, with an additional fee for massages. We were guided to our room which was located in the main lodge. It featured two skylights, two moderately-sized windows overlooking the lake, a king-sized bed, a small table with two chairs, a wood-burning stove, and a small bathroom with walk-in shower. Though the entire lodge is solar-powered (the only one in the world, they claim), there was no shortage of hot water. It was rustic and comfortable, but not luxury accommodations by any means.
After getting situated, we headed down for some lunch and were greeted by Rolando, our attentive and gracious waiter. The food was tasty enough even if the alpaca steak was a bit overcooked. After lunch we wanted to get in some activities before the rain started but our guide Gilbert was nowhere to be found. In fact, with the notable exception of Rolando, no one offered to help us with anything. We wanted to go canoeing and Rolando told us that signs to the right would guide us to them. We followed signs to "canoas" but instead of finding canoes we found some row boats. My wife said we must be in the wrong area but I insisted on taking one of the aged boats for a spin. 10 minutes and 3 splinters later, I agreed with her that we must be in the wrong place as those boats were clearly not meant for the use by guests. We explored the island a bit more after that before heading back to the lodge for a nap. Unfortunately for us, that was just at the time that band practice started. Drum and flute sounds permeated the lodge for no less than two hours. Not being able to sleep with such racket, we decided to take in some more activities. Though there was lots of activity in the lodge - people hurriedly moving things around - we again couldn't find Gilbert or any one to help us with the activities. So we ventured out on our own and were able to find some beautiful spots on the island: pebble beach, huge boulders, wild vicunas, the alpaca stable and of course many beautiful views over the lake. Upon returning to the lodge, it was clear that a big event was in the works. But how could that be when they only had 3 guests in total? Buffet tables had been set out with some rather awesome looking food and a long dining table with roughly two dozen chairs had been assembled. We grabbed a couple of beers ourselves and watched the preparations, trying to figure out what exactly was going on. Shortly after, the band got in position, along with what we could only guess was the entire staff of the lodge along with a middle-aged woman who we correctly guessed was the owner of the island. Band started, and an entourage came through the front door to much applause and fanfare. Turned out that they were the executive staff of Casa Andina making their annual visit to Isla Suasi. Ironically, they were the only ones at the party who showed any interest in talking to us - the guests! And I must admit that they are a friendly and charming bunch of guys and apologized for no one explaining what was going on. We also had a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to sample Suasi's delicious local "rabbit" (which is actually vizcacha, a chinchilla-like rodent which I was told they hunt solely for this annual event). Though the executive team insisted that we dine with them, we opted to dine by ourselves. Not only was it our honeymoon, but we didn't want to interfere with their team building dinner. Dinner was fine, but nothing to write home about. By the time we returned to our room, the fire was blazing and our room was quite warm (even hot). A knock at the door, and some hot water bottles were delivered to pre-warm our bed. The fire was a nice touch and definitely added to the ambiance, but since we'd already been struggling with the thin air, I was worried that it was robbing us of even more much-needed oxygen.
The following morning, we again tried to find Gilbert but assumed he was busy with his visiting execs. Fortunately Rolando (as always) was willing to help us. We explained our difficulty in finding the canoes and he volunteered to guide us. As it turned out, some joker had reversed the "canoas" arrow so that it directed to the wrong path. We easily found the canoes this time, which were indeed quite nice, and set out to row around the island. It was by far the high point of our time on the island as we got to see so much: cormorants, ibises, ducks, the aforementioned vizcachas, vicunas, and lots of beautiful scenery. It took only an hour to go around the entire island and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who's familiar with a canoe or kayak.
We returned to the lodge around 10am and had a couple hours to kill before our boat would take us back to Puno. While sitting outside, we chatted with Miguel, Casa Andina's VP of Human Resources, whom we'd met the previous evening. He was genuinely interested in how we enjoyed our time at Isla Suasi and we said that it was ironic that we would speak much more with him than our own guide. I guess that he spoke with Gilbert afterwards, because Gilbert was VERY attentive to our needs after that and set up a nice van and driver to take us from the Puno port to the cathedral at Lampa and then Juliaca airport.
All-in-all, Isla Suasi has a gorgeous setting, a comfortable rustic lodge (even if not exactly luxurious), and mixed service (great from Rolando and the visiting executives, and poor from our guide).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- A solar-powered ecolodge on remote and uniquely beautiful Isla Suasi-the only private island in massive Lake Titicaca, the world's highest navigable body of water. Featuring panoramic lake views from every room, surrounded by terraced gardens and designed with native materials (stone, adobe and thatched roofs) to blend into the island, the lodge is committed to being green. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Casa Andina Private Collection Isla Suasi Hotel Puno