Laguna Colorada - Atlas Obscura

Laguna Colorada

This red lake 4,000 meters above sea level is home to rare flamingos. 


Somewhere around 14,000 feet (about 4,300 meters) above sea level is Laguna Colorada, Bolivia’s stunning white-speckled, red lake. Part of Bolivia’s salt wonders of the altiplano, the lake, and its nearly-extinct flamingo population draw visitors to the bizarre, otherworldly landscape. Besides flamingo, the area is home to various fauna including llamas, alpacas, Andean foxes, ​cats, and pumas.

The colors of Laguna Colorada stand out immediately upon seeing it. Tinged with red algae and other microorganisms, the water is a deep orange-red hue. Perfectly contrasted, the salt lake is dotted with large white pools caused by massive borax deposits on the lake’s surface. Combined with the rolling mountains and craggy rock shores, Laguna Colorada is an immaculate and beautiful wildlife area. Laguna Colorada is part of the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, and in 1990 it was listed as a “Ramsar Wetland of International Importance.”

Besides tourists, a rare breed of flamingo has also flocked to the area for centuries. James’s Flamingo, also called the puna flamingo, is native to the Andes and the Altiplano area. Although they seem plentiful on the shores of Colorada, they are in fact very rare. During the mid-1950s, scientists had all but written them off as extinct, until a pack was found roaming South America. Today their habitat is continually threatened, and they are classified as an endangered species.

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