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Bolivia day 12 – Laguna Colorada and various other Lagunas

Posted by on June 28, 2011

This was the second day of the Salar de Uyuni trip and it started off with breakfast and checking out the town of Alota. There weren’t a lot of people living in this town and it was basically used as a place for tourists to stay the night. Yet, still you could see the people carrying about their business with llamas, growing and cleaning keenwa, and whatever else task at hand.

Bolivian lambs in the countryside, Bolivia

Someone let the lambs out to graze

Quinoa backyard farm, Bolivia

Someone growing quinoa in the backyard

A woman in Alota cleaning quinoa in the street, Bolivia

A woman in Alota cleaning quinoa in the street

Once everything was ready, the first place to stop off was the Valle de Rocas where it was another playground of climbing big rocks and getting in great views of the area. By climbing a fairly tall and big rock, I was able to see and take pictures of the great landscape the area had to offer. It was not scary at all climbing these big boulders if you’re used to tall heights and have some climbing sense. I believed that the reward in the end was most definitely worth it!

Valley of rocks, Bolivia

Just hanging out at the valley of rocks

Valley of rocks, Bolivia

The view from below with me and Karen hanging out at the top

Valley of rocks desert, Bolivia

The view from above allows anyone to see everything

After leaving that area, we were supposed to go to the Lagunas which were shallow lakes in these high altitude areas with many of them containing natural mineral resources and almost all of them were offering great picturesque views of the area. However, on the way to one of them, thanks to my hawk-eyes of hunting, I spotted something out of the unusual which no one saw including the guide. I saw a brownish-red fox walking around in the field. Generally, these creatures (or any wild animal for that matter) are not keen to being that close to humans. This one was too curious to observe vehicles driving by and even then, it came pretty close enough to where someone could have thrown a bone or meat to it. I thought it was still neat to see this as this was the first and only time during this trip that anyone got to see a wild animal that close. Supposedly there were pumas and pheasants in the area too but I never spotted any.

Bolivian desert fox, Valley of rocks, Bolivia

I spotted this fox while riding in the back. Funny that no one else saw him.

Bolivia desert fox, Valley of rocks, Bolivia

What's he thinking? That we're going to throw him some food?

Finally, we got to one of the alpine lagunas and wow, I was impressed. After all that driving, we get to a shallow lake with mountains all around. It was actually very nice to be at and look around with the landscape surrounding the laguna. The only problem was that the lagunas were fairly far from each other and required driving  to get to each one but that was okay. I thought that the driving and waiting were well worth it. I could never remember which name belonged to which laguna, but they were all worth seeing.

Off-roading on desert road in Bolivia

There was a lot of driving for this portion of the trip

Laguna with a great reflection, Bolivia

This Laguna had such a great reflection that I, myself, had to turn back and look at it.

However, I thought the Laguna with the white stuff was very interesting. The guide explained that this particular laguna had what you’d call Borox, which was something that used in cleaning detergent. And yes, this stuff was being mined to make money off of it. Huh, well I’ll be, I’d never thought that as it looked like snow to me. And the best part was looking at all that “snow” on the water and in the background you’ve got mountains and desert. What a combo.

Laguna with a vegetation, Bolivia

Another Laguna but with vegetation though

Great view of the Laguna, mountains, and desert, Bolivia

Great view of the Laguna, mountains, and desert

Laguna with a mountain reflected on the water, Bolivia

Laguna with a mountain reflected on the water

Then we went to this very sandy desert area with another laguna nearby.

Laguna in the desert, Bolivia

Another laguna in the desert

But of course, it required more driving to get there.

Colorful laguna with mountains in Bolivia

All of the lagunas look differently from afar and close-up

Lagunas with birds in it, Bolivia

If you look closely, there are birds swimming in the laguna. Of course, as you get closer to take better photos, they swim away from you.

And the best of all there was this rock formation that everyone could climb and get some more great views.

Surfing the rocks by the laguna, Bolivia

Surfing the rocks by the laguna

The view of Laguna from climbing the rocks, Bolivia

The view from climbing the rocks

Rocks, desert, jeep, Bolivia

Another view from climbing the rocks but of the desert

Another great part of this area was the ability to take more perspective photographs since it was just sand and not any water involved.

Desert perspective photo shot, flicking someone off my shoulder, Bolivia

Flicking someone off my shoulder - damn tiny humans!

We did make this one stop in the middle of the desert where there was this rock formation called El Árbol de Piedra which in English stands for the Rock Tree. It was quite unique to see this rock looking like a tree and that humans had nothing to do with it. It was naturally looking like that.

The famous rock tree in desert with rocks, Bolivia

The famous rock tree - just sitting out there pretty

The best Laguna in my opinion was Laguna Colorada and there was a good reason for calling it that as it was very big and very colorful. Despite it looking blue from a distance, the Laguna was very reddish in appearance up close.

Laguna Colorada, Bolivia

Laguna Colorada in the distance

Laguna Colorada, Bolivia

Yes, that is water. Not just "red stuff"

There was a special type of mineral that made this Laguna that color and as such, the microorganisms become red such as the flamingos in the area. Flamingos are generally white but consuming the mineral via the microorganisms turned them into pink.

Laguna Colorada, Bolivia with pink flamingos

Flamingos from a distance

Laguna Colorada, Bolivia with pink flamingos

Flamingos aren't stupid but I tried to close as possible to them to take good pictures

Flamingos grazing like cows, Laguna Colorada, Bolivia

Well, what can you do when you're at the edge and can't go any further unless you get wet. Just take photos as best as I could from there.

Yes, it was possible to get up close to the flamingos without bothering them to get away. All you had to do was be discreet about it although it was very windy so it kind of sucked to get something in your eye while trying to take photos.

The good thing about being at Laguna Colorado was that the hostel was close-by which happened to be a stone constructed one that had limited hot water and electricity. I thought it was funny that a good portion of the females had to have a hot shower no matter what. I just did a bird bath since we were going back to civilization in 2 days. Big whoop. Besides, we were warned in advance that this was going to be a very cold night and morning.

Stone beds in Bolivia

Yup, stone beds with a hard mattress with some blankets made for a chilly, difficult night to sleep.

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