One attraction that has always avoided the touristic brush of the popular established circuit of Lake Titicaca is Suasi Island; off the far northern shore, the only privately owned island on the lake is a natural treasure with native trees, wildlife and beautiful views across rugged and unspoiled landscape.
While the peace and serenity are not likely to change any time soon, we recently learned that more significant changes will take place at the island’s only property, Suasi Lodge. Speaking to the owner of Suasi Island, Martha Giraldo, and her son Miguel, we were informed that the well-known hotel chain Casa Andina, which had been managing operations of the lodge since 2005, has decided to withdraw from the project, focusing more on its larger corporate hotels. Effective April 2015, the job of running the eco-lodge will return to its owners.
This was fantastic news for those of us at Aracari; we are well aware that it has been a direct result of Martha’s extensive preservation efforts of the local flora and fauna that Suasi Island is a dream-come-true for nature enthusiasts today. We have long been advocates of visiting the island. Martha, who lives all year around only 100 meters away from the lodge, was full of plans about how to return the 24-room eco-lodge to the original concept that she started years ago. Originally purchasing the 43 hectare island from her grandmother 26 years ago, she hosted her first guests in the sustainable solar-powered lodge in 1999, one of them being Aracari’s founder, Marisol Mosquera.
Talking us through her ideas about the future of Suasi Island, Martha wanted to stress that importance will be placed on the more permanent qualities that guests should expect during a stay on Suasi Island: serenity, beauty, nature, wildlife, sustainability, quality, and communication. You won’t find a television in your room at Suasi Lodge, and unlike many modern hotels these days, Suasi only offers Wi-Fi in the common areas. The reason, Martha told us, was so that guests are encouraged to talk with each other, spend time playing games, reading, relaxing, meditating, walking around the island, and in general enjoying each other’s company and the surrounding nature, away from the distractions of technology. These aspects will be the focus as the Suasi Lodge returns to its original owner.
That being said, the new and improved Suasi eco-lodge will still include all the amenities and comfort one would expect. All the rooms include fireplaces, skylights, balconies with views of the lake and full or king-size beds. There is a unique Andean Cottage down by the water, perfect for a romantic getaway, family vacation or Peruvian honeymoon, that, in addition to two bedrooms, one bathroom, and a bar, has its own private dock. Some of the renovations Martha and Miguel are planning are roofs and hallways between the rooms and common areas so that guests won’t have to go outside in the cold, as well as making the breakfast room more accessible for those guests that may have difficulties with stairs.
Appreciating nature while enjoying quality service and comfortable accommodation are themes on Suasi and the food options are no different in their high caliber. The menu is designed to offer a taste of typical Puneño dishes using local ingredients in addition to going easy on the digestive system, which can affect many at such a high altitude (3,850m). For example, foods that are more difficult to digest, such as quinoa and red meat, will be served mid-day, and in the evenings when it’s chilly outside, a soup will warm you from the inside out.
Much thought and care has gone into the Suasi Island experience, and there are many things that make this place so special. Starting with the boat ride to the island, Martha emphasized the importance of knowledgeable guides that can explain interesting details about each place as the boat passes by. Stops on the way from Puno to Suasi include the islands of Uros and the northern part of the island of Taquile, which is less touristic. Martha wants guests to have the most authentic experience possible by visiting communities a little farther from the main touristic path.
One of the highlights of Suasi is the adorable “Martha’s Cultural Cabin” where guests can find out more information about the history of the island, borrow books from the library and see cultural photos from Puno and the surrounding areas. Martha has a wealth of information about the island and the region in general and the educational experience here is unparalleled compared to other parts of the lake. She is happy to answer any questions, point out species of birds or the difference between alpacas and vicuñas or recommend activities.
Aside from the opportunity to investigate this hugely important historical area, there are many activities to keep you occupied if you get tired of just admiring the view (which we doubt is possible). Besides exploring the island, there are many water activities available such as kayaking, canoeing or stand up paddle boarding. Once on the island, no motorboats are allowed in the vicinity of Suasi to avoid noise and pollution. Martha and Miguel are also planning to designate a space down near the water for yoga sessions or meditation. When the weather is agreeable, the sunset view from the top of the island is breathtaking.
At Aracari, we are all very excited by this news and looking forward to our guests visiting Suasi Island in the near future once the final touches are in place. If you are interested in visiting Suasi Island, do not hesitate to contact us.