Hidden in the vast altiplano landscape of southwest Bolivia, in the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve, lie scores of lagoons at the foot of massive mountains and volcanoes. Driving through the reserve, they will appear in the otherwise dry landscape. They all have their own, distinct colour, which often reflects in their names. When you come closer, you start to discern birds in many of the lagoons. Other wildlife runs around the shores. On our first day in Eduardo Avaroa reserve, the first lagoon we see is the Stinky Lake Lagoon. Not a very appetising name, and indeed, the smell was not good, but not disturbing enough to prevent us from walking part of its shore. We see a group of James flamingoes, that walks with us through the shallow water. Their big beaks are almost constantly sifting through the bed of the lagoon, searching for food.
Our lovely guide explains that these flamingoes, one of the three species found in Bolivia, can travel great distances depending on the season. While we listen to her explanations, we marvel at their graciousness, and their unique appearance that makes them look like they defy logic: very thin, long legs, on which an quite big body, and a long, curving neck. Some of them spread their wings, showing their impressive wingspan. We walk to a next, smaller lake, Kolipa Lagoon, and before we even reach the shore, two vicuñas run by, at short distance. We have seen quite a few llamas and vicuñas near the road, but seeing the elegant camelids up close in the wild is of course much better. Every next lagoon is different, in shape, size, colours, and smell. We drive all the way down to the far southwest of Bolivia where we see the White and Green Lagoons, with snow-capped mountains rising straight from their shores. The strong wind causes the water to be choppy, which gives these lakes the wild appearance that suits them well.
From the far south, Chile is not far away, but we turn around, and turn north, where many more lagoons wait to be seen. The highlight of all is Laguna Colorada, which we approach in the late afternoon, when the brown of the earth turns golden, and the snow on the mountains in the distance is even easier to see. We walk the ridge of a small peninsula on the south of the lagoon, which gives us a perfect view of the bright colours running through the waters. At times, this lake can turn red because of its algae, but now, it has red stretches, blue and white ones. Walking the shoreline brings us very close to the flamingoes, and the three species walk along here: James, Andes and Chilean flamingoes. We come back to the other side of the lake the next morning to enjoy a view from atop a hill on the hundreds of white-pink-black beauties. Further north, we come across Laguna Hedionda, Honda, Ramaditas, Chiar Khota, Cañapa and Turquín which all have their distinct beauty, and most of them teem with flamingoes. All these lagoons and all their colours to prepare us for the biggest salt lake of the world further north: the Salar de Uyuni.
Around the World in 80 Clicks
Personal travel impressions both in words and images from Eduardo Avaroa lagoons (Bolivia). Clicking on the pictures enlarges them and enables you to send the picture as a free e-card or download it for personal use, for instance, on your weblog. Or click on the map above to visit more places close to Eduardo Avaroa lagoons. Read more about this site.