I had such a good start to my first day of my Salar de Uyuni tour that I was full of anticipation for more wondrous landscape sights. The second day of the tour was also called the day of the lagoons as we will be hopping from one lagoon to another … each one more stunning than the other. On this day, we had the luxury to wake up at 7 am and depart from our hotel after a quick breakfast.
A railway track that stretches out across the wide barren plains. Only in this part of the world can a simple railway track add a depth of quirkiness and uniqueness to this stupendous landscape.
We drove past the semi-active Ollague Volcano which still had fumarolic activities. I was told that it was possible to hike up this volcano. Some tour operators arrange tours to go up this volcano.
Chuguana Desert has interesting rock formations carved out by the harsh elements of Mother Nature. Somehow the brown rocks against the greyish mountains with the startling blue sky formed a beautiful palette of amazing color blended so perfectly. In spite of the hot sun beating down on me, I still needed my jacket to keep me warm from the chill of the cold air.
This is the Laguna Canapa or Canapa Lake, first lagoon of the tour and my jaws hit the ground when I saw this indescribable stunning landscape. I could gaze upon this magnificent surreal landscape for eternity and never get tired of it. Cañapa Lake is an endorheic salt lake with a surface area of 1.42 km². Endorheic lakes are far from an ocean in areas of relatively low rainfall. Their watersheds are often confined by natural geologic land formations such as a mountain range, cutting off water egress to the ocean. The inland water flows into dry watersheds where the water evaporates, leaving a high concentration of minerals and other inflow erosion products. Over time this input of erosion products can cause the endorheic lake to become relatively saline/salty. Since the main outflow pathways of these lakes are chiefly through evaporation and seepage, endorheic lakes are usually more sensitive to environmental pollutant inputs than water bodies that have access to oceans, as pollution can be trapped in them and accumulate over time.
As we approached nearer to the lake, we could see the flamingos (if only we could go nearer but no one was allowed to step into the lagoon) just a couple of feet away. These fascinating creatures were so used to tourists that they did not even so much as lift up their heads even when we were making so much noise.
Laguna Hedionda is another breathtaking lagoon notable for various migratory species of pink and white flamingos. We were very fortunate to be able to see flocks of them and I could watch them the whole day. This lagoon is bigger than Canapa and its surface area is 3 km² situated at an elevation of 4,121 m. This is where we stopped for lunch. Alberto prepared something delicious, which I could not remember, as I wolfed it down quickly in order to get back to the lagoon to take more photographs.
Arbod de Piedra also known as Stone Tree is a tree-like stone standing about 7 metres high. The strong winds that whipped across this 4,412 metres high Bolivian Altiplano at 120 km/h during the colder season had whittled down this rock over time into the shape of a tree. There are other rocks as well in this sand dune of the Siloli Desert and we were given about 20 minutes to clamber up some rocks. Once I had thought that deserts were all hot & dry with nothingness. Now, I stand corrected. The dramatic hues of the rocks , the mountains, the sand and the blue sky all came together and orchestrated a dazzling display of nature’s beauty at its best for my eyes to feast on.
We drove by this stretch of fascinating resplendent mountains for quite a while. I could not pry my eyes away as I felt I was looking at a beautifully painted landscape. Just look at the different shades of brown that no man-made paint would be able to duplicate.
SIXTH AND FINAL STOP
This is my favourite laguna and the prettiest in my chart. I was standing at an elevation of 4,278 metres but it was not the altitude that took my breath away. Instead, it was how all the different colors came together and formed such an awe-inspiring landscape that blew me away. Laguna Colorada is a shallow salt lake within Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve. For those who want to know the size of this lagoon, it is 10.7 km in length and 9.6 km in width with shore length of 35 km.
Dotted with white islands of massive borax deposits, the salt lake is less than 1 m deep, and is tinted blood red due to a variety of algae which thrive in the salt water. The plankton-rich lake draws a large number of endangered James flamingos, which is another highlight of the lake.
What a marvellous finish to our second day tour!!