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If you’re looking for an awe-inspiring, otherworldly landscape, Laguna Colorada is your destination!

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.

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.

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.

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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

Amenities

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

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