Lagoons of the Altiplano Plateau

Altiplano Plateau at its Best!

Bolivia – te Espera

The Altiplano Plateau is covering the west part of Bolivia with an average altitude of 3750 masl. The name itself comes from Spanish and means “the high plain”. Our 3-day adventure, which we started in Uyuni, also included visiting deserts, lagoons, gaysers and volcanoes.

After the day full of wonders at Salar de Uyuni, the biggest salt flat in the world, we thought that the highlight of the trip is already behind us. Were we right?

Martian landscape and local flora

After a breakfast in the salt hotel, we had to put our luggage on the roof of the car. Than, we set off for a ride across the spectacular, bolivian deserts. The ladscapes behind the window reminded us a bit of NASA pictures from the latest mission to Mars. Volcanoes were towering in the distance and the vast, red plains were covering the area all the way to the horizont. Our guide/driver was well prepared and told us some stories about the difficulties of the living in such harsh conditions and how animals and plants try to overcome them. The moss, for example, stood out brightly green among the redish sand. It grows very slowly and resembles a rock more than a plant.

Hundreds of flamingos and colourful lagoons

Later, we arrived to the area where we could find numerous lakes inhabited by flamingos. It was our first time to see these birds in their natural environment and we were impressed by their beauty. First, at the Laguna Cañapa, we could not stop taking pictures. The water was coloured with different shades as well. It was the first lake out of the four in the area. After a short drive, we arrived to Laguna Hedionda. There were even more flamingos there! While we were walking along the shore we could not believe how lucky we were to be in such a marvelous place. We had a lunch just by the lake as well, prepared by the guide.

Andean fox and viscachas up close

Further South, we stopped at Laguna Honada, which had a particular, very pale colour. This day on our way across Altiplano Plateau we were driving as high as 5000 m masl! We came across some of the local mammals. We saw the andean fox and some viscachas – a sweet, furry rabbit-like creatures. We passed through some spectacular landscapes, colourful rocks and also visited the Siloli desert.

The Rock Tree

There’s this one spot, where the sand and the water carved the rock to create an extraordinary fomation known as the Rock Tree. It stands in the middle of the dry plains and looks unearthly.

The Stone Tree
The Stone Tree

Laguna Colorada

Finally, we made it to the Eduardo Alvaroa National Park, where we had to pay 160 BOB each for the entry, which is around 22 USD. That is very expensive for Bolivia. Right before the entry, we stopped at the most beautiful view point that we saw this day. Who knows, maybe the view was even better then the ones we saw at Salar de Uyuni. I leave it up to you to decide. Down below, we could see Laguna Colorada – The Red Lake in its full glory. It is located at 4278 masl and covers 60 square kilometers.

What makes the lake so picturesque are algies feasting on rich mineral waters, full of sodium and magnesium. As a result, the water is coloured in various shades of red. It is a magnificent thing to see.

We just froze with our mouths wide open staring at the sensational view in front of us. Finally, we overcame the spell and started taking some pictures. Than we drove straight to the second-night acommodation. The evening was very cold with temperatures dropping below 0° celcius. There was no heating in the building, so it is worth it to take your own, warm sleeping-bag with you.

Morning full of gaysers

The third day started very early for us. The wake up call and breakfast were before the dusk and at 5:00 am we departured towards the geothermal area. For the sunrise, we made it to the “Sol de Mañana” (Morning Sun) geysers. The mud pools were bubbling and the steam was comming from the cracks in the ground. There was a strong sulphur smell around and the sun was rising slowly bringing us a little bit of long awaited warmth. Then, we headed to the hot springs, where we could finally warm ourselves up. The pools were not big and there were quite a few cars around. Anyways, it was great to jump into 45° C water when the air around was 40° C cooler.

One step away from Chile

Next, we drove across Salvador Dali‘s desert. The artist himself had never been to the area at all, but the landscapes resembles his surrealistic paintings.The last stop of our 3-day tour was the Laguna Verde. Unfortunatelly, it turned out that you can see the green colour only in the afternoon sun. Behind the lak,e we could see the Licancabu volcano, 5960 masl high and on its other side there was a new country – Chile waiting for us.

Licancabur Volcano and Laguna Verde
Licancabur Volcano and Laguna Verde

You can finish the tour by the chilean border

At 9:00 am we were dropped at the borde where after the passport check and paying the small fee for the stamp we boarded the shuttlebus. It took us directly to San Pedro de Atacama. It was all arranged back in Uyuni while we did the booking for the tour. Three day trip turned out to last less than 48 hours because ot started at 11:00 am the 1st day and finished at 9 am, on 3rd day. If we chose to come back to Uyuni we would be back in town  around 5:00 pm.

But first, coffee!

Luckily for us, at 1:00 pm were were sipping iced coffe at the main square of San Pedro recalling the incredible trip that had just finished. Here, more than 1500m lower than Altiplano, it was pleasantly warm. The sunny weather, after the harsh mountain-climat, remided us of Huacachina Oasis in Peru where we had been relaxing 3 weeks earlier.

25 Replies to “Lagoons of the Altiplano Plateau”

  1. You had me at flamingos! Like… Really!!! I would love to be somewhere.. just walking along and then I see FLAMINGOS! That would make my day!

  2. So this trip looked amazing! I love flamingos! So pretty! I have always wanted to go to a geyser! It looks like so much fun!

  3. I would never in a million years have guessed that something this starkly beautiful existed in Bolivia. OMW it’s almost surreal and that Rock Tree is just amazing. Just goes to show the power of Mother Nature. Loved seeing your photos

  4. what an amazing place to visit! Your photos were great as well! The colors of the lake look almost taken out of a movie or something. Really looks like a fun destination 🙂

  5. Bolivia is so beautiful, all the pictures have captured the beauty perfectly, the colors of the nature at its best. The flamingos look so amazing. I would love to visit this part of Bolivia.

  6. I was planning to visit Bolivia last year, on my way from Peru to Chile, but because I ran around too much 2 months before my trip I didn’t have time to go and get the visa, so I chose to fly over unfortunately. However, I would love to return. Your photos are so pretty and the flamingos are simply adorable!

  7. I was literally just talking to my boyfriend a week or so ago about the Bolivian salt flats. I so want to go and I hadn’t even thought about the flamingos! Amazing.

  8. I love the flamingos! These photos look amazing. Bolivia might be going on my list of places to visit.

  9. Canapa Lagoon is stunning. These photos are amazing. It makes me want to visit Bolivia. What a terrific advanture!

  10. Wow these photos are stunning! The setting looks surreal. Love the flamingos and the mountains are gorgeous.

  11. Oh my goodness, how beautiful!! I’ve never been to Bolivia but I would from seeing your post, these photos are magnificent, I especially love all the gorgeous colours and wildlife you got to see!

  12. Corinne and Kirsty says: Reply

    the landscapes look absolutely amazing! the color, shades and shapes! beautiful! and the flamingos! i would love to see in in real life!

  13. Your trip looks amazing! I love the red lake photos! I can’t believe algae would cause that color😍 Gorgeous!

  14. I wonder why the lake is so red, such a gorgeous trip! I absolutely am jealous of the flamingos (I love them)

  15. What a great trip! You have such great photos. I can’t believe all the flamingos!

  16. The Laguna Colorada looks so serene and beautiful!! I’m saving this for later, you’ve sold me on wanting to visit here! Those rabbit like animals look super funky though haha! I love these pictures!

  17. Shubhada Bhide says: Reply

    What a wonderful place! I would love to visit this soon! Seems you really had a great experience there!

  18. The pictures are absolutely surreal….loved the flamingos shot…I have seen many Dali’s paintings and this definitely resembles!

  19. That rock tree would amaze me. Like how does it stay up like that? I would think about that a lot. It’s also cool that you saw flamingos!

  20. I thoroughly enjoyed your photos of Bolivia. That rock tree was something else. Thanks for sharing.

  21. Wow… I got a little breatheless looking at your website header… it’s beautiful… and with the headline, it seems so befitting of this article too ~ Geysers are definitely something I want to see after waterfall~

  22. That is such an awesome place to explore. Those pictures makes me wanted to visit this places soon. Laguna Colorado is a quite interesting.

  23. Wow! These lagoons left me speechless, Wiola and Mike! Is Laguna Colorada a good summer destination?

    1. Laguna Colorada is a good destination in dry season. During the wet season the red colour might disappear. Definitely November-December is a great timing for a visit!

  24. What a gorgeous place! I would love to visit Bolivia, the landscapes are so beautiful.

Leave a Reply