Our Bolivia Adventure: Lagoon Hopping & Flamingo Spotting
Guest Blog by Lili Mahlab
Getting up in the wee hours of the morning was becoming routine for us. At 5:30, we used our headlamps so we could find our way in the darkness, pack our few remaining things, and head to breakfast at 6:00. By 7:00, we were on our way through the Paso de Los Incas, a winding, heavily pitched canyon of rocks and boulders.
This was the ultimate in off road driving where our driver, Luis Mario, was an expert at climbing over boulders and then plunging into ravines of crushed rock.
For the next few hours, we went “lagoon hopping.” Our first stop was at the Laguna Honda – a relatively shallow lagoon of perhaps only a foot and a half.
Then, we were off to the Chiarkota Lagoon (means brown lagoon), a relatively small 90 acre lagoon. The Hedonda lagoon was filled with flamingos and smelled heavily of sulfer. We took beautiful reflection shots of the surrounding mountains mirrored in the still waters of the lagoon.
From there, we went to perhaps one of my favorites – the Canapa Lagoon – where the flamingos were literally frozen in the lake – only to be freed when the midday sun melted the water and freed these beautiful birds.
We must have spent an hour taking photos of these exquisite birds. They never ceased to amaze us with their extraordinary grace and beauty. The reflections were truly amazing.
Before leaving the Altiplano, we took a brief detour to see the Ollague volcano on the border with Chile and Bolivia. The volcano is still active with steam spewing out of its conical peaks. Since it was a very clear day, the outlines of the cone and the steam were clearly visible from miles away.
We capped our lagoon visits at the Laguna Turkuiri, our final stop before heading to Uyuni where we had lunch in the same restaurant where we breakfasted upon our arrival.
Afterwards our guide gave us a walking tour of the town, we headed for Colchani where we spent some time visiting a salt factory.
By 4:00, we headed to our hotel in the salt flats, the Palacio de Sal, a very pretty building made entirely of blocks of salt, situated at the edge of the salt flats.
After settling into our rooms, we had a nice, leisurely dinner in the hotel restaurant where Diane surprised me with a “pre-birthday” birthday cake. Since this cake was so huge (and quite delicious), we ended up offering birthday cake to all the guests in the dining room that evening.
By 9:30, we all turned in knowing that we’d be up early for a predawn excursion into the salt flats.