Bolivia, a landlocked gem in South America, is a country blessed with breathtaking natural wonders. Among these, Laguna Colorada stands out as a captivating and mystifying destination.
Laguna Colorada, also known as the Red Lagoon, is one of Bolivia’s most popular natural attractions. It’s renowned for its unique crimson hue, which is a result of the high concentration of red algae and minerals in its waters. Nestled within the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve, this saltwater lake is a surreal sight to behold.
Laguna Colorada is larger than the Island of Manhattan, with a surface area of approximately 60 square kilometers.
The lake’s vibrant coloration changes throughout the day due to varying sunlight angles and the movement of algae. It can range from deep red to orange and even pink! Borax islands on the lake’s surface have a distinctive white, crystalline appearance that sharply contrasts with the ever-changing water colors. The lake and its borax islands create a stunning visual spectacle against the backdrop of the arid, hilly landscape.
Salt flats surround the lake; the water in Laguna Colorada is very salty. Due to its high salt content, the lake does not support fish or many other aquatic creatures.
Laguna Colorada Wildlife
Laguna Colorada is a vital habitat for many non-aquatic species. James’s flamingos, Andean avocets, and crested ducks flock to the lake to feed on the rich algae. James’s flamingo, a near-threatened species once thought to be extinct, was rediscovered in the Andes Mountains in 1957.
Andean Foxes, or culpeo, are the largest foxes in South America and are often spotted in the region. They have a reddish coat and are known to scavenge for food around the lake’s shores.
Vicuñas, small relatives of llamas and alpacas, are often seen grazing on the grasslands near Laguna Colorada. They are known for their valuable and soft wool. Rabbit-like rodents called viscachas are often seen perched on rocks or the lake’s shores, where they feed on vegetation.
Situated at an astounding 14,100 feet (4,300 meters) above sea level, Laguna Colorada is one of the highest altitude lakes in the world. Due to the challenging terrain and its remote location, reaching the lake can be an adventure in itself. But visitors who complete the journey to Red Lagoon are in for a one-of-a-kind experience.
The elevated vantage point of Laguna Colorada provides incredible panoramic views of the surrounding Andean landscapes. The stark beauty of dormant volcanoes, geothermal features, and the vast expanse of the desert can be seen from the lake’s shores.
Tourists should take precautions when visiting due to the altitude. Altitude sickness can affect some individuals, so it’s recommended to acclimatize gradually when exploring Laguna Colorada to ensure a safe and enjoyable visit. The weather around the lake can be very unpredictable and temperatures can drop rapidly, so visitors are advised to come prepared with warm clothing.
Can Visitors Swim in Laguna Colorada?
Swimming in the lake is not recommended. The lake’s water temperature remains near freezing, even on the warmest days. Taking a dip could lead to hypothermia, a potentially life-threatening condition. There are limited facilities for emergencies around Laguna Colorada, so attempting to brave the cold is risky. Additionally, the lake’s saltiness makes it comfortable to wade in. Choosing not to swim also benefits Red Lagoon’s fragile ecosystem.
While the lake is not ideal for swimming, it is a photographer’s dream. From its flocks of flamingos to its fiery sunsets and beautiful landscapes, Laguna Colorada offers endless photo opportunities.
Laguna Colorada is close to many worthwhile attractions in the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. The Salvador Dalí Desert is a unique desert landscape with an otherworldly appearance, reminiscent of the works of the famous artist Salvador Dalí. On the way to the desert, tourists can stop at Sol de Mañana. This geothermal area features bubbling mud pools and spouting geysers.