Hidden away on the tip of Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula and located somewhere around 14,000 feet above the sea level in the southwest of the altiplano of Bolivia, lies the magically coloured cotton-candy pink to almost bloody Laguna Colorada. It is within the Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve and close to the country's border with Chile. The high plateau, known as altiplano, is rich with many large lagoons, known for their brilliant colours and hues, due to the presence of various minerals in their waters. For instance, Laguna Verde has a remarkable emerald-green look. But, Laguna Colorada is the only large red lagoon in the Reserve.
In Spanish, Las Coloradas means ‘the red’. Laguna Colorada is a shallow salt water lake and is tainted blood red due to the presence of a type of red-colored algae, plankton, and brine shrimp that thrive in the salt water. Sprinkled with small white islands of borax deposits, the nearly 15,000-acre salt lake area is actually, less than three feet deep. Salt is big business in Las Coloradas.
Salty ocean water from the nearby mangroves floods onto hard, flat salt plains, creating shallow lagoons. Gradually, as the water evaporates slowly, these organisms become more and more concentrated and prominent, glimmering pink in the bright and harsh sunlight of Mexico. It is quite obvious that, the pink water is incredibly salty. With the combination of rolling mountains and craggy rock shores, the vibrant Laguna Colorada is a wonderful wildlife area.
The amazing Laguna Colorada attracts the James, Chilean and Andean flamingos, as they eat the red planktons. The James Flamingo, also known as Puna Flamingo, is in fact very rare and classified as endangered. However, they seem plentiful on the shores of Colorada. Their white feathers also become tinged with the red algae and other microorganisms, which they eat.
The Laguna Colorada, one of the world's most unique lakes, almost looks like a painter’s palette of colour. The protected reserve area, covering about 15.000 acres, is the home to about 80 bird species. Apart from the Flamingos, Andean geese and Falcons, it includes several endangered and threatened species. Mammals include Pumas, Andean foxes, domesticated llamas and alpacas and a rabbit-like animal known as the vizcacha. It also provides habitat for reptiles, amphibians and fish.
The major part of the rough landscape around Laguna Colorada is conspicuous with desert rocks and heaps of salt deposits. It is very near to the geothermal area, where the geysers of Sol de Manana eject their waters forcefully toward the cloudless blue sky above. Smoking craters send up clouds of steam above a landscape that is nothing like anything else seen on earth. Due to high altitude, the air temperature at the dawn is often below freezing, but warms up decently during the summer months, making excursions into the Reserve quite pleasant. Laguna Colorada is easy to access. The area is surrounded by small villages, where the visitors can spend the night.