Exploring Bolivia´s Southwest: volcanoes, flamingos and geysers!

When we woke up, we could see how cold are the freezing nights in this region. Indeed, the small rivers are completely frozen and ice covers some parts of land in the shadow until late during the day…


Our dear French companion absolutely wanted to improve our meal by adding a good lama steak to it. We therefore landed up in a lama breeding to attempt to buy a couple of kilos of fresh meat. Arriving there, two men were cutting down the skin of two freshly slaughtered lamas to sell their meat later on in Tupiza. Despite our request, they refused to sell per kilos and wanted to sell only a whole limb or a whole body part. Thus, we ended buying… a full 7 kg leg! Our cook would cook it the last day for our greatest joy!

Nice face, huh?
Gladys bargaining our leg

On the way, magical landscape again left us out of breath. We arrived at a lagoon named Laguna Hedionda, which means smelly lagoons in English. Indeed, this lagoon is full of suffer which gives it a nauseous odor absolutely repelling. In addition, it is full of Borax, a white crystal used to produce ceramics, glass, soaps, and other cosmetic products. Later on, we arrived at another lagoon, la Laguna Kollpa, where the Borax is extracted and where pink flamingos often wander around. However, the freezing cold left the lagoon frozen explaining the absence of flamingos that day.

Laguna Hedionda
Laguna Kollpa

We continued our route and passed by the Hot Springs that we would enjoy a little while later. We then arrived at the splendid Dali desert, located at no less than 4750m of altitude, which surnatural colors and volcanic rocks deposited in the middle of the sand gives a surrealistic impression worth of the great paintings of Salvador Dali. This desert was apparently named after the visit of the later in this place.

Desierto de Dali

At the Chilean border, we arrived at the Laguna Verde where the calm waters perfectly reflected the marvelous Licancabur volcano. The volcano’s summit is at no less than 5950m high and the highest lac in the world lays at its summit. We had wanted to climb that beast but could not find anybody to join us in this tour… Finally, it was maybe not such a bad thing, as the climb takes no less than eight hours with freezing temperatures and very little oxygen. It is well over 1’000m over the Mont-Blanc, the highest European summit…

Laguna Verde and volcano Licancabur
Rocks, borax, ice and water…

After lunch, the wind started to mix the different minerals in the water of the Laguna Verde. This started to make the water foggy and gave it a green emeralds color.

Miam miam
And that is why we call it Laguna Verde!

It was time then to relax and enjoy the warm water of the Hot Springs that we previously saw. The 40 degrees Celsius are a pleasure against the cold of the day.

Hot Springs

The volcanic activity in the region still had another surprise for us. At more than 5’000m of altitude, we arrived at the Geysers Sol de Mañana where suffer vapors offer us a very sweet odor but mostly a fantastic show of smoke and light. The boiling mud and the smoke that emerge from these geysers are magical. We met a few crazy cyclists, travelling by the sole strength of their leg, facing the horrible altitude and the terrible cold at night… How well we slept in our non-heated lodges in the end!

Geyser Sol de Mañana
Thanks to Antonin for these pictures

At the end of the day, we arrived to the most beautiful spot of our tour from my humble point of view: the Laguna Colorada. The lagoon’s name come from the numerous microfilaments that gives it this reddish color depending on the sun orientation. It is located in front of another volcano, the volcano Quetana. Hundreds of pink flamingos wander around in it. Add to this wonderful picture the Borax crystals and the yellowish herbs typical of this region and you obtain a true paradise for any photographer!

Laguna Colorada
Volcan Quetana and Laguna Colorada

This night will be even colder than the first one which will not prevent me to have fun observing, admiring, and photographing the wonderful Southernhemisphere night sky, so beautiful without any light pollution from close-by cities. The Milky Way is simply splendid and highlights the contour of the Quetana volcano. My poor sister got really worried by her brother’s long absence alone in the night before I joined her to show her this wonderful sky…

The Quetana and the Milky Way


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About nbeuchat

I am currently traveling South America to discover its culture, landscapes, and fascinating people. I am passionate about photography, scuba-diving and dancing.

One response to “Exploring Bolivia´s Southwest: volcanoes, flamingos and geysers!”

  1. RB says :

    L'aventure la nuit avec le ciel étoilé, féérique.

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