Flamingos and Dusty Roads – More from the Southwest Circuit to The Salar de Uyuni

We bumped along the high altitude plains and canyons of the Southwest Circuit, for almost two days before reaching the more famous lagoons.

Great desert views along the way

Now, lagoons on their own might not be that exciting, but when you stuff them full of flamingos, that is another story.  We explored many lagoons of different hues crammed full of flamingos, and if you know anything about Kristen, this made her super excited.

One Lone Flamingo

We won’t bore you with too much detail about the lagoons, but they all were interesting in their own regard. Some were colored red due to the allege and others green from the minerals. The colors of the lagoons are more pronounced when the sun is out, but unfortunately there was not too much sun during our visit.

Us freezing at Laguna Verde. Not so green without the sun.

Lagoon in the distance

Even though the colors were not super bright, the lagoons were still beautiful and interesting. Getting to them was also an adventure, as this area looked like one giant road with tracks leading in all directions. Thankfully, Segundino, our guide, knew just where to go.

The entire area was covered in small, volcanic rocks which made perfect natural roads, and actually, they were some of the best roads we had seen in Bolivia.

Driving along -Pick your path.

Sometimes it seemed like we were the only ones around for miles.

Okay, so now that we have bored you with the details of the lagoons, here come the pictures of the flamingos.

Flying flamingo

Some lagoons “only” had a few hundred, while others seemingly had a few thousand.


Kris and her new pals.

Tons of pink feathers

It was a little hard to wrap your head around the fact that you were looking at flamingos in the freezing cold at around 14,000 feet.

Not the most graceful looking take off.

Shouldn’t they be hanging out in the Flordia Keys drinking tropical drinks on someone’s lawn?

Yes- all those pink dots are flamingos, and this is just one side of the lake.

Nice colors

These guys were dangerous so we stayed far away. Just look how ferocious they are.

Okay, while this area has many flamingos, it actually may have more Toyota Land Cruisers.

Land Cruiser rally. Just imagine it during high season.

If you ever owned one of these jeeps in the last 20 years, you can pretty much guarantee it is down in Bolivia, cruising the salt flats and Southwest Circuit. Once we met up with the jeeps from Uyuni, there were literally hundreds cruising around the terrain, and even more in the towns. You had to take a good look at your jeep and note some of its details in order not to get in the wrong one after a scenic stop.

We also had a nice break at some hot springs, which were pretty awesome once the crowd cleared out.

Kristen soaking up the water's heat. Seriously, 20 minutes earlier there were at least 40 people in here.

We were also lucky to have our functioning Land Cruiser (some other groups were not quite as lucky), as it took us to some more amazing places, like geysers located at over 16,000 feet. If you haven’t picked up on this fact yet, we have basically spent the last three months at high altitude.

The geysers were blasting off a bunch of steam, like a boiling kettle, and were fun to walk around. These geysers are unlike other ones around the world we have visited because they are hot enough to melt your skin off, but come without warnings or fences to keep you back.

You could walk right up and even fall in if you wanted to. Bolivia just figures you should be smart enough to know the steam coming out of the ground is dangerous, and you should decide how close to get. This is so unlike The States, where if someone got burned, they would try to figure out how to sue Mother Earth.

Yeah, Joe's feet were on fire

If you know anything about Kris (and her clumsiness), you would understand why Joe was worried about a fall here.

We spent the night in a rustic cabin at high altitude, and headed out early, again. This day we had a long distance to travel, and we were hoping to get to the salt flats by sunset.

Along the way we passed some great rock formations, and the famous stone tree.

Kris and the Stone Tree

We spent a little time running around the rocks and enjoying the barren landscape.

Don't move, you are holding everything up. Did you know Joe was a modern day Atlas?

Rock formations in the middle of nowhere.

Our guide had told us about a little salt hotel near the salt flats where he wanted us to stay. The only problem was there was only room for 3 jeeps, and there would be 12 trying for the same spot, so we had to keep moving.

So back in the jeep, and back on the road.

We spent the rest of the day putting some kilometers behind us, as we cruised the muddy roads leading to Uyuni. True to his word, our guide got us to the salt flat for sunset, and a room at the salt hotel. Double bonus.

We spent about 2 hours walking around the salar and taking in the gorgeous sunset.  It was incredible and we were so stoked to have made it in time. It was definitely worth all the time in the car.  Not many guides are willing to visit the salar for sunset and sunrise, but our guide was more than happy to make both happen.

First experience with the salar....So, which way is up?

During the rainy season the salt flat is full of water and the reflections on this smooth water are unimaginable.

The salt flats are one of the most magical places we have ever seen.  We took so many pictures of this one special place, that we’ll have to share the rest of the salt flat pictures in the next post.

About shoefry

Taking off for a year to see what the world has to offer.
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8 Responses to Flamingos and Dusty Roads – More from the Southwest Circuit to The Salar de Uyuni

  1. Dee says:

    How the heck do you guys keep finding such unique and remarkable things to do down there? Just fascinating.

    Keep the stories coming. And keep Kristen away from danger, please.

  2. Tee says:

    My palms started sweating with the roasting geysers. Kris perched on the edge of anything is enough to make me nervous. All I could think of was when Kris almost biffed on the Inca Trail (I admit, I did the same). Or tried to walk with two sticks and rolled her ankle. Not. Good.

    Glad you guys got lucky with the guide. Did someone recommend him or his company, or was it sheer luck?

    Toyota should do a photo shoot down there. But they need to ignore the trucks that break down, I suppose.

  3. Mom says:

    Even as a little girls Kristen was obsessed with “Mingos”.

    Kristen…step away from the edge!

    Love you and miss you.

  4. Kerri says:

    Shoe, I need to go with everyone else here and say that you were a might close to those geysers. While I’m sure they gave you an excellent facial, I’m not so sure the risk of falling into the center of the Earth was worth it. I did chuckle at the reference to the sue-happy United States.

    Love all the flamingos. If you go by Liz’s theory from the beginning of your trip, then Joe was one lucky guy. Just imagine all of us watching over you. :o)

  5. Love this post! That rock tree is incredible. Plus flamingos and jeep rides?? Sounds awesome!

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