If you are looking for a upscale Titicaca island experience, step onto the Isla Suasi and all the stresses of the real world will disappear. Antonio, the friendly manager, of the new Casa Andina Private Collection (Ugarte 403, Lima tel. 01/213-9700, www.casa-andina.com, US$165 d for two days and one night) will hand you a lime-and-muña refresco, then you’ll head off to a lunch of barbecued local meats, and finally on to the elegant, rose petal–sprinkled rooms.
Suasi is Lake Titicaca’s only privately owned island, and the owner, Martha Giraldo, recently signed a 20-year contract with Peruvian hotel chain Casa Andina to give it exclusive managing rights of the island’s only lodge. The result is an excellent hotel on a truly secluded island. Casa Andina, in its remodeling, has added a gourmet restaurant, a eucalyptus steam sauna, and a private suite that is actually a two-room, lakeside cottage with butler included. But in all the change, Martha’s house, island trails, Andean cultural center, and gardens remain the same.
A walk or kayak around Suasi affords incredible views of distant, blue mountains, islands in Bolivia, and orange-tinged sunsets. The dry air and the rustic smell of grasses remind you that, while you are in the lap of luxury, you are in the middle of nature.
The trip may be a splurge, considering that you have to hire a boat or car to make the 3–5 hour trip to the hotel, but it’s completely worth it. All meals and activities are included in the price, and the lake’s natural beauty is never as perceptible as it is here on the island. You’ll return to the mainland with a spirit as clean as the Suasi air.
© Ross Wehner and Renée del Gaudio from Moon Peru, 3rd Edition