Laguna Colorada, Bolivia

The Laguna Colorada is located in the extreme southwest of Bolivia, relatively remote, but thrills with its spectacular colouring and flocks of flamingos.

The Laguna Colorada, also called "Red Lagoon", is a spectacular natural spectacle in south-western Bolivia. Algae and minerals have coloured the lagoon's water, which is only about 1 m deep, blood-red. The 60-square-kilometre lake lies in the Andina Eduardo Abaroa National Park, embedded in a desolate desert of salt and rock. For flocks of flamingos, the bright red salt lake offers a rich source of food.


PICTURES: Laguna Colorada

Photo gallery: Laguna Colorada

Journey to Laguna Colorada

Tours to the 4,278m high Laguna Colorada start from Tupiza or Uyuni in Bolivia, or San Pedro de Atacama in Chile - © marktucan / Shutterstock
© marktucan / Shutterstock

Tours to the Laguna Colorada, located 4,278m above sea level, start from Tupiza or Uyuni. Due to the poor road conditions, which can only be mastered with an off-road vehicle, the journey to the lagoon takes between 8 and 10 hours.

Alternatively, the journey can be made from San Pedro de Atacama in Chile. It takes about 3 hours to cover the 150km.

Accommodation for Bolivia holidaymakers is available directly on site. There are several small villages with accommodation around the lagoon. Ideally, a visit to the Laguna Colorada is booked as a guided tour including transfer and accommodation.

Tip: Dress warmly! In the morning, the temperature at Laguna Colorada is around freezing point. In summer, it rises to at least around 15°C during the day.

Laguna Colorada in full splendour

The bright areas in the Laguna Colorada in Bolivia consist of the sodium compound borax, which is typical for salt lakes - © saiko3p / Shutterstock
© saiko3p / Shutterstock

The long journey is worth it! Together with the peaks of the Andes in the background, the bright splashes of colour from the flamingos and the brilliant white islands, Laguna Colorada is an absolutely breathtaking sight. Red sediments and algae are responsible for the bright red colour of the Laguna Colorada. The bright areas consist of the mineral borax, a sodium compound typical of salt lakes.

James', Chilean and Andean flamingos feast on the rich plankton resources in the lagoon. The latter, also called yellow-footed flamingo, is one of the rarest flamingo species in the world. The barren landscape of the Altiplano is also home to pumas, Andean foxes and wild cats, although they are rarely seen. As for land animals, visitors mainly see llamas and alpacas in front of the camera lens.

Excursion to Laguna Verde and Laguna Blanca

The Laguna Verde with the Lincancabur volcano, Bolivia - © Marcel Hurni / Fotolia
© Marcel Hurni / Fotolia

A little further south, already on the border with Chile, lies another colourful lake, the Laguna Verde. The green lagoon is also located in the Andina Eduardo Abaroa National Park at the foot of the Licancabur volcano at an altitude of 4,329 metres.


Since the lake contains magnesium and calcium carbonate as well as the toxins arsenic and lead, there are no flamingos at Laguna Verde. Instead, they can be found in large numbers at the directly adjacent Laguna Blanca, whose water shines in brilliant white.

Trip to the Sol de Mañana geyser field

Deposits of copper, iron and other sulphates give the mountain flanks their colourful appearance, Geysers of Sol de Mañana, Bolivia - © Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock
© Galyna Andrushko / Shutterstock

Also not far from Laguna Colorada is "Sol de Mañana", the highest geyser field in the world. The 10-square-kilometre lunar landscape impresses with colourful mountains and smoking holes that bear witness to volcanic activity.