Laguna Colorada, a famous Red Lagoon in Bolivia

Story by: Dragana Brankovic     Date: 24 August 2020    Image by: Canva | Byelikova Oksana

6 minutes reading time Bolivia

Laguna Colorada (Red Lagoon) is a famous Bolivian lake. Known for its wonderful, red color, the lake lies close to Chilean border, in the southwest part of the country. It is “Bolivia’s most incredible natural wonder” and the part of Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. This Red lake lies around 4000 meters above sea level and it is also famous as a home of rare flamingo species. Three of the world’s six species of this incredible bird, can be found here. Other than flamingos, Laguna Colorada is also home for various other animals, such as alpacas, llamas, cats, pumas and Andean foxes.

Amazing color of the lake

Amazing color of the lake

You will definitely fell in love with the color of this wonderful place as soon as you see it. Red color of the lake is so specific and it fascinates people from all around the world. This amazing color is caused by red sediments and algae in the water and it goes from light to dark. Since ancient times people were amazed with this unusual color and people used to believe, and some of them still does, that the water is actually blood of the Gods. On the other hand, borax islands make perfect contrast, which are spread all around the lake. The white color of the islands and amazing color of the lake make this place even more wonderful. What so more, there is also one more amazing thing about color of this lake – it changes during the time of the day and depending on the light and climate. Can it be cooler?

You cannot find many places like this, no matter how much you travel. And if you are a person who likes to make good photos, various colors of the lake and perfectly blue sky above it combined with the snow peaks of the Andes Mountains, you certainly won’t regret visiting this place.

How to get there and when is the best time for a visit?

When you travel around South America, you will for sure visit Bolivia. And when you need to escape crowded places, you will definitely want to visit this incredible place where you can rest and enjoy nature. Laguna Colorada is located “in the middle of nowhere” and it is a bit complicated to access it. Most of the visitors take 3 day tour starting from Uyuni.

It is located on the Altiplano plateau, in the Andes mountain range. The lake was listed as “Ramsar Wetland of International Importance” back in 1990. There are so many villages around the lake, so tourists can easily find place to stay while they explore this wonder of nature. The only hotel nearby is the Laguna Colorada Simple Mountain Lodge. It will give you a wonderful experience which you never felt before. There is no heating, carpet, hot water or electricity after 9 pm, no matter how low temperatures during winter time are.

Laguna Colorada is a shallow salt lake and it spans 6000 hectares. On the other hand, the water is only approximately 35cm to 1 meter deep.

The best time for visiting Bolivia and this lake, of course, is during winter time. You will see blue sky, sunshine and just little bit of rain.

Flamingos flying over Laguna Colorada

Fauna

Flamingos. Believe it or not, three of six living species of this amazing bird can be found around here – famous James’ flamingos, the Chilean and the Andean. Why do they live here? Because representation of planktons living in the lake are something what brings them back every year. James’ flamingos are very rare. Back in the beginning of 20th century, scientists used to believe they are all gone. But, thankfully, small population was rediscovered in 1956 while they were roaming South America. Even today, their habit is still continually threatened and they are still listed as an endangered species.

Those people, who would like to see flamingos, should visit Laguna Colorada during summer. During that time of the year, the lake is literally packed with them. Even in the winter, you can find some of them around the lake. Those are the ones who don’t have enough strength to migrate.

Interesting fact about flamingos is that they are all born with white and grey feathers. Later, red algae color their feathers and give them pink color.

Despite hostile landscape, Laguna Colorada is home to many indigenous birds and mammals (pumas, foxes, cats) and some amphibians, reptiles and fish. Domesticated alpacas and llamas can be found anywhere in Bolivia (and mostly throughout the whole South America continent), so you can also see them in this deserted location.

Bolivia Desert

Nearby places

If you take one of the local 3-day tours, you can visit some of the regions significant sights, beside Laguna Colorada. There’s a “Train Cemetery” where you can see old Bolivian trains and locomotives. Next to it is a small village of Colhani where you can visit factories and handy-craft market.

There is only one hotel in the salt flats – Playa Blanca is a hotel made out of salt in the Uyuni salt flat. The hotel is surrounded by salt sculptures, flags and the Dakar Statue. While visiting the vast flats, you can make interesting photographs because of the unusual landscapes that makes funny perspective pictures.

There is also Necropolis & Museum Kawsay Wasy that dates from pre-Inca period. You can see naturally shaped tombs of coral rock, some of them still have skeletons inside. There is also a valley of giant cacti – The Inca Wasi Island – you can visit while hiking to the top of the hill where you will find spectacular 360° view.

For movie lovers, especially Star Wars fans, there is a special filming location you can visit in Solar de Uyuni. Isla Pyramide Huascar Inti is the place where battle scene from “The Last Jedi” was filmed. You can walk on the salt flats where the First Order and the Resistance engaged in one of the most spectacular battles in the movie.

Tunupa Volcano is a dormant volcano in the northern part of the region which plays a significant role in local legends about origin of the Salar de Uyuni. At about half way up the Mountain, there is a cave with several mummies and an ancient village.

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