Siloli Desert & Laguna Colorada Feb 2016

I don’t think I could ever get enough of the beauty of Salar de Uyuni and it was sad to leave.  We ventured on by 4×4 to the Siloli Desert and its colored lagoons.  The landscape here is not the desert landscape I imagined.  I always tend to associate deserts with the Sahara desert and its rolling sand dunes.  Here, it is just arid coarse land surrounded by snow-capped mountains.  Here and there, you will spot some vicunas and llamas feeding on the shrubs in the wetlands.  After driving for hours (I lost count) on bumpy “roads”, we arrived at Laguna Hedionda which is a saline lake which is also called stinking lake from the high concentration of sulphur.  The lake, like many others in the area, is filled with flamingos.  After having our lunch at Laguna Hedionda, we continued through the arid landscape to reach our hotel for the night, Tayka Desert Hotel.  For something so far remote from civilisation, I have to say this hotel is run quite well although the water here again smelled like sulphur.  This time I opted for wet wipes instead of a sulphur shower.  And yes I slept fully clothed again like a babushka lady but at least that was what I had expected in the middle of nowhere.

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DSCF0370Love this shot of the llama and her baby posing for me with the backdrop of snow covered mountains.

DSCF0378Flamingos feeding at Laguna Hedionda

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DSCF0386Tayka Desert Hotel

Early the next morning, we set out to Laguna Colorada within the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna Nature Reserve.  Laguna Colorada is a lake colored blood red by the algae living in it.  Many flamingos feed here on the red algae lending the pink color to their feathers.  As the day wears on, the lake becomes more red because the flamingos are digging up more and more sediments and red algae.  It is very beautiful here and the landscape and the colors are things out of a dream.

DSCF0387Bumpy but so beautiful

DSCF0388Vast expanse of nothing but snow-capped mountains in the distance.

DSCF0391Spotted a vicuna family along the way

DSCF0403Stone Tree in Sioli Desert which is a rock whittled down into the shape of a tree over time by the winds that whip across the altiplano.

DSCF0421The red Laguna Colorada

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DSCF0424This looks like something out of a dream!

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Ready for takeoff!  Reminds me of the Roadrunner…Beep Beep!

DSCF0459Must be in dreamland?

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I could have stayed and watched the flamingos at Laguna Colorada all day but we had to press on.  We went up close to 5,000 meters to see the Sol de Mañana or Morning Sun geothermal fields.  This area is filled with mud pools with boiling sulphur and mud emitting pressurised steam.  We pass by several other lagoons before reaching the border of Chile.  However, the other lagoons pale in comparison to Laguna Colorada.

DSCF0502Sol de Mañana or Morning Sun geothermal field

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DSCF0513Bubbling sulphur and mud

DSCF0533Laguna Verde is colored green by a variety of minerals including lead, copper, arsenic, etc.

DSCF0547Laguna Blanca is a white lake filled with borax.  Legend has it that there was a beautiful goddess named Tunupa whose baby was stillborn.  She cried and cried and her tears mixed with the breast milk her baby would never drink formed this white lake and Tunupa, so stricken with grief that she hardened into a mountain forever overlooking the white lake.

DSCF0550Border crossing into Chile

This concludes my trip to Bolivia.  After having traveled to over 50 countries, I am not easily impressed and I have to say the Uyuni Salt Flat and the Siloli Desert exceeded my wildest expectations.  This area of Bolivia is definitely a must see!

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