Tour to Laguna Verde and Laguna Colorada in Bolivia

August 13th 2003 

Transfer from Chile to Bolivia, getting to Laguna Blanca with a bus from San Pedro de Atacama. Here a three days adventure crossing Bolivian plateau by 4x4 starts, and excursions to Laguna Verde and Laguna Colorada follow soon. Overnight in a simple refuge near Laguna Colorada in Bolivia.

Border between Chile and Bolivia Licancabur volcano
A short minubus ride, brings the group from San Pedro de Atacama to the Bolivian's border. The road climbs from San Pedro to the altiplano, reaching up to 4500 meters above sea level in less than one hour. On the way, the bus stops on a nice viewpoint to Licancaburvolcano (picture on the right),
Laguna Blanca, Bolivia
We soon arrive at Laguna Blanca (white lagoon) so called because of the color caused by the high concentration of salt and minerals. The lake is partly frozen, as the night temperature usually drops many degrees below freezing point.
Laguna Verde, Bolivia
Panoramic photo of Laguna Verde. We leave the minibus at Laguna Blanca, continuing on a 4x4 driven by an experienced driver. The first stop is at Laguna Verde, a beautiful lake colored by minerals.
Offroad travel on Bolivian altiplano Offroad travel on Bolivian altiplano
Our bolivian guide calls it "the highway". This dusty track will be our way for the next 4 days, up to Uyuni and Potosì, far to the northeast. The life up here is not easy and only few highly specialized plants and animals can live and reproduce here. Because of the elevation, the atmospheric pressure is much more lower than normal, as well as the oxigen and the humidity. The temperature is very cold at night, but the sun is hot with higher levels of UV rays. Everything is more tiring than normal, even taking just a picture, as the body and the brain is hungry of oxigen. It took just one night for me to acclimatize, then I did each day slightly better.
Hot water spring, Bolivia Hot water spring, Bolivia
Hot water spring, Bolivia
The trip continues to a lagoon containing hot water because of geothermal activity. When the level of the water is higher, it is also possible to bathe in.
Sometimes, steam and dust raises from the ground.
A cactus, probably a Tephrocactus, protects its green body from the cold and from the UV rays, by a thick and dense layer of thorns. Up here, everything is slower than normal and a size like this may require dozens of years (perhaps hundreds) to be reached.
Other types of vegetation in Bolivia. Grass (top left pictures) and lichens (other pictures). On the bottom-right picture, a macro of a lichen taken from 3 centimeters of distance.
Sometimes, blue lakes can be seen here and there. The water is normally not-drinkable (sometime is toxic) because of the high salt concentration or different mineral content.
Geyser in Bolivia
After some hour, we reach a geothermal fieldat 4900 meters of elevation. In the picture, a 360 degrees panorama view of the entire area.
Geyser in Bolivia
Geyser in Bolivia Bolivia by Toyota 4x4
Clouds of steam raises from the hot muds, leaving in the air a dense smell of sulfur.
Boiling muds, Bolivia
Photo of enormous pots containing boiling muds.
Laguna colorada, Bolivia
Panoramic photo of Laguna Colorada. After a long trip started this early morning in San Pedro, we reach our today's destination of Laguna Colorada (red lagoon). The water, visible far away in the picture, is red because of the presence of algae.
Flamingoes, Laguna Colorada, Bolivia Flamingoes, Laguna Colorada, Bolivia
Laguna colorada, Bolivia

Pink flamingos populate Laguna Colorada, eating the algae contained in the water. On the bottom-left picture, an area of the lake is particularly red.
Offroad travel by Toyota 4x4 in Bolivia
The jeep with our Bolivian guide.
The sun sets over Laguna Colorata, replaced by a cold, long night.

At the end of the day, if I close my eyes, I still see the most beautiful places... Laguna Verde... the geysers... Laguna Colorada... Beautiful images... to keep the mind busy, while the body slowly adapts to the altitude !

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