Bolivia // The southern Altiplano //

Reserva de Fauna Andina Eduardo Avaroa

From Colcha K, just south of the Salar de Uyuni, it’s a 160km drive down to the entrance to the RESERVA DE FAUNA ANDINA EDUARDO AVAROA. En route you cross the edge of the smaller Salar de Chiguana, a railway line running from Uyuni to the Chilean border, and a forlorn military outpost where you may have to show your passport. The track then climbs above 4000m and passes a series of snow-frosted volcanoes straddling the border. It is not advisable – and, in any case, extremely difficult – to visit the reserve independently (see Tours of the Salar and the Reserva Eduardo Avaroa).

Like the Salar de Uyuni, the desolate landscapes of the Reserva Eduardo Avaroa possess a surreal, otherworldly beauty. This is a land of glacial salt lakes whose icy waters are stained bright red or emerald green by microorganisms or mineral deposits; of snowcapped volcanic peaks and frozen, high-altitude deserts; of rocky outcrops scoured by the unremitting wind into strange, Dalí-esque formations.

There is a wide range of rare Andean wildlife here, including many species rarely seen elsewhere. The salt lakes support large colonies of all three South American species of flamingo, including the world’s largest population of the rare James flamingo, one of the eighty different bird species found in the reserve. You’re almost certain to see large herds of vicuñas grazing on the scant vegetation of the high, semi-desert grasslands. Viscachas and even the elusive Andean fox are also frequently spotted.

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