Warming Up in the Hot Springs
The best way to start our day off was a dip in one of the natural hot springs formed outside one of the many lagoons in the area. The only manmade developments are walls to contain the water and a small shack with see-through curtains that you can change behind. We were the only ones there, getting toasty in the hot waters and enjoying the surrounding views. And, it only cost us 60 cents! Worth it.
Geysers, Mud Pots, and Sulphur
Similar to our recent trip to Iceland, there are geothermal pools and geysers in Bolivia. However, unlike in Iceland, there was no ropes to keep you back from falling into a pool of 220 degree mud/water/steam.
We were able to wander around the multiple mud pots, ink pots, and fumaroles all to ourselves and get as close as we felt comfortable. We were only warned that there was a high concentration of (poisonous) sulfur dioxide gas coming from the ground so we could only stay for 15 minutes maximum. They have to draw the line somewhere and I guess noxious gas is the limit.
This was also the highest point of the day, at just below 5000m, so it required the most bundling.
The scenery on the drive was also fantastic today taking us high up into the Andes, right up to the Chilean border, and through desert-type landscapes.
One part of our drive went through this area called the “Dali Desert” with its interesting rock formations. Someone named it after the painter Salvador Dali, as the natural rocks reminded them of his surrealist paintings. We agree that the whole scene looked quite surreal! There is no driving allowed in the Dali Desert, so we took some shots from afar:
As if the day wasn’t amazing enough already, we then visited two very unique lagoons. The first was the green lagoon (Laguna Verde) which as the name suggests is a turquoise green color. This lagoon is rich in copper, lead, magnesium, and arsenic. When the wind blows these minerals are stirred up and make the lagoon turn color.
The wind only picked up when we arrived there, so we literally watched the lagoon turn color right before our eyes!
The mountain in the background is a volcano, so the surrounding area is all of a lava field with large dried up lava rocks. Notice how there is no wildlife… that’s because the lagoon is toxic from the arsenic.
Red Lagoon & Flamingoes
Along with the colorful lagoon theme we also saw the red lagoon (Laguna Colorada) which is teeming with flocks of flamingoes.
You might think the lagoon is reddish because of them, but it’s actually because of algae that have red pigment. The flamingoes just happen to be drawn to this for food. Either way it was quite amazing to see a lagoon this intense rustic color.
Neither of us have ever seen flamingoes in their natural habitat, so this was a first! They are actually are quite entertaining. They look sketchy when landing because their lanky legs just flop down and they have to try to slow down from a flying speed (we captured this starfish action for your viewing pleasure). They also seem to have “highways” in the water where they all walk in single file to get from one point to another; it appears very organized.
If you’re wondering what’s up with the grey ones, those are the baby flamingoes.
That wraps up Day 2. This was one of our favorite days of the whole tour, only to be rivalled by the finale at the Salt Flats. Onto day 3…