Laguna Colorada | El Salar de Uyuni (the Uyuni Salt Flats) | Must Eat Bolivia's National Dish

An awe-inspiring, otherworldly landscape, Laguna Colorada

Laguna Colorada Bolivia laguna colorada reflection

Best time to go

Mark your calendar for December through to April to enjoy the amazing scenery as you walk alongside the lagoon side.

Laguna Colorada has been placed alongside the Salar de Uyuni salt flats as ‘Bolivia’s most incredible natural wonder.’

The almost blood-red lagoon, filled with hundreds of pink flamingos, sits near the border of Chile, inside the Eduardo Avaroa National Reserve (usually the first stop).

GPS Coordinates: 22.2083° S, 67.7735° W

At 4,800 meters above sea level, you may experience a lack of oxygen, or difficulty breathing.

According to folklore beliefs, the water is the blood of the gods. However, scientists have a different theory. namely, that the color is a direct result of the algae and rich minerals in the water.

Whatever the reason, thanks to the abundance of plankton in the lagoon, flamingos are drawn to the lake in their hundreds.

Andean flamingo in Bolivia Eduardo Avaroa Fauna National Reserve
Andean flamingos

The Andean flamingo is one of three species on the lagoon. It’s quite a spectacular achievement on its own, i.e. to observe three of the world’s six species in one single location! 

In addition to such a remarkable variety, one of the three species is incredibly rare. Namely, James’ flamingos. Until 1956 it was thought the James’ flamingos are extinct. A small population was discovered and today it remains a protected species.

You also get to see the Chilean flamingos. Depending which side of the lake you are, there’s a small circuit you can walk to get a closer view.

Telling them apart

Both sexes are alike, but the male is slightly larger.

Andean flamingos

  • Beaks: Paler yellow beaks with extensive black tips.
  • Plumage: Distinctive black triangle patch on its plumage.
  • Skin: Yellow legs, and webbed feet.
  • Eyes: Dark red-brown.

James’ flamingos

  • Beaks: Bright yellow with black tips.
  • Skin: Bright red legs, and between the eye and the beak.
  • Plumage: Pale pink with bright carmine streaks around the neck and back. Also, black primary flight feathers.
james flamingo species
James' flamingos, also known as Puna Flamingos

Chilean flamingos

  • Beaks: More than half of their large beak is black, with the remaining pink. No yellow at all.
  • Skin: Long greyish legs with pink leg joints and pink webbed feet.
  • Plumage: Pink with black primary Also, black secondary flight feathers with red wing coverts.
  • Eyes: Pale yellow color.
chilean flamingo species
Chilean flamingo


A small indoor display area provides shelter against the wind. It also has explanatory posters on the wildlife and the ecology of Laguna Colorada.

Enjoy refreshments at the small coffee shop over discussions about the spectacular color of the deep crimson jaw-dropping lake.

A viewing telescope provides a closer look at the elegant birds.

bolivia laguna colorada james flamingo
Rare James' flamingos
Explore Interesting Gramado and Canela in Brazil

A visit to the picturesque town of Gramado is definitely something to put on your travel bucket list.


2-Days Uyuni Salt Flats tour, including Laguna Colorada

“Explore the world’s largest salt flat on a 2-day excursion from Uyuni—ideal for travelers with time constraints. You’ll ride in a comfortable vehicle and enjoy spectacular views of the Salar de Uyuni with stops at indigenous villages, geysers, hot springs, high plateau mountains, and multicolored lagoons. Take perspective photos at Incahuasi Island and spend one night at a hotel in the middle of the desert.” – Viator

El Salar de Uyuni (the Uyuni Salt Flats)

The vast landscape cannot help but evoke a sense of eeriness and mystery in the rainy season. It’s also known as “The border between Heaven and Earth.”

One of the oddest places on earth is the largest salt pan in the world, which lies in the Potos and Oruro departments. The largest natural mirror in the world is created when a thin layer of water collects on the surface. The Incahuasi Island’s middle region offers the greatest view. A prehistoric lake (4,000 square miles) that dried up and was replaced by a void filled with bright-white salt, rock formations, and cactus islands is known as Salar De Uyuni. Large groups of stunning pink flamingos can be observed grazing in the water in this location.


When to go

The months of July and October are the ideal times to visit this location. This is undoubtedly among the strangest places on earth.

Getting there

To go to the salt flats, you can fly, take the train or bus to Uyuni, and then rent a car.

strangest eeriest unusual places in the world El Salar de Uyuni the Uyuni Salt Flats Bolivia
Photos' credit: psyberartist, flickr

Bolivia's National Dish: Salteñas

Bolivia’s national dish is the salteña. It describes a baked beef or chicken empanada from Bolivia that is stuffed with olives, potatoes, vegetables, hard-boiled eggs, raisins, herbs, and spices and then baked. Because salteñas are so juicy, you may imagine them as a stew that is served inside a pastry.

Gelatin is added to the stewed filling before it is refrigerated and solidified in the fridge to give it this distinctive juiciness. As the salteñas are assembled, this prevents the dough from becoming mushy. The mixture melts into the mouthwatering stew-like filling that salteñas are famous for when cooked.

Suggested Read: How to make salteñas.

saltena Bolivias national dish best must eat food meals in Bolivia