Laguna Celeste is more romantically known as “Heaven Lake”. As local legend has it that there is a submerged ruin, possibly a chullpa, (a stone tomb) in this lake.
Laguna Blanca is milky in appearance, coated with ice, and filled with Borax.
Laguna Verde is blue/green in color due to deposits of arsenic, lead, copper and other heavy minerals.
Termas de Polque is a hot-water spring with mineral-rich water and a wonderful view of the snow-covered mountains in the distance.
Sol de Manana has geysers with water temperatures of 380 degrees fahrenheit, fumaroles and mud pots.
Bubbling mud pots at Sol de Manana give off thick, and sometimes stomach-turning, aromas of sulfur fumes.
The fiery red color of Laguna Colorado is derived from algae and plankton that thrive in the mineral-rich water. The shoreline is fringed with brilliant white deposits of sodium, magnesium, borax and gypsum.
Laguna Hedionda is set in a backdrop of snow-covered mountains and hosts various migratory species of flamingos.
The flamingos at Laguna Hedionda are not as pink as those at other lagoons because the algae that creates the pink color in flamingos is comparatively less there than at other lagoons.
The afternoon sun shines on a herd of wild vicunas running across the Altiplano.
Salar de Uyuni at sunrise looks like a never-ending expanse of sparkling diamonds.
A young Bolivian man experiences the blinding white vastness of the Salar de Uyuni at sunrise. This is the largest salt flat in the world, close to 5 square miles in size and at an altitude of 12,000 feet.
A pair of llamas greet the morning atop a small hill at Isla Incahuasi located in the center of the Salar de Uyuni.
A portrait of a llama who lives on the Isla Incahuasi.
Isla Incahuasi is covered by a forest of Trichoreus Cacti that grow one centimeter each year. The tallest cactus is 12 meters high making it 1,200 years old.
Isla Incahuasi translates as House of the Incas. One million years ago the Salar de Uyuni, the salt flat on which this island is located, was a sea. The island, which is made of coral, attests to that fact.
A portrait of a Bolivian child who lives at Isla Incahuasi with her family.
Bofedales (wetland areas) are spread around the periphery of the Uyuni Salt Flats.
Salt is hacked out of the Salar de Uyuni by subsistence farmers using picks. It is then shoveled into conical piles awaiting transport.
At least 10 billion tons of salt remain in the Salar de Uyuni. Old, still-functioning trucks, like this one, are used to bring the harvested salt to the railroad for transport to refineries.
Sunset at Salar de Uyuni illuminates its hexagonal tiles of salt.
Sunset at Salar de Uyuni.
Most of the salt from Salar de Uyuni is sold to refiners and hauled off by rail, but some is exchanged with local villages for wool, meat and grease or sold at the local market to tourists.
The market in Colchani sells trendy items like these brightly-patterned shoes as well as utilitarian items like the toilet paper seen in the background.
Bolivian fabrics in typical colors and patterns are for sale at the market in Colchani.
A young Bolivian woman waits to take part in a religious procession in the city of Uyuni.
A group of young Bolivians will dance in a religious procession in Uyuni. Their dance routine is based on traditional Andean dances, but it has been given a distinctly modern twist.
With the arrival of the Spanish, European dances and the dances of African slaves were introduced into the Andes. This resulted in the hybrid dances and costumes that now characterize most Bolivian celebrations.
Several post-colonial dances are traditionally performed as satire, poking fun at the colonists as seen in this dancer’s mask and costume representing a Spanish aristocrat.
A young Bolivian boy, in formal dress, takes part in a religious celebration in Uyuni.
Most dances in the Altiplano area are performed by fraternidades (groups).
A young Bolivian woman dances with her fraternidade in Uyuni.
Masks worn by dancers in the Altiplano are generally more melancholy than those worn by dancers in the warmer lowlands.
A Bolivian man of the Altiplano in traditional dress.
A Bolivian woman of Andean descent wears a traditional 19th century, European-style bowler hat introduced into Bolivia in the 1920’s by railway workers. The position of the hat on a woman’s head can indicate her marital status.