Tag Archives: Siloli desert

Southern Vicuña (Vicugna vicugna vicugna)

My first sight of this group was a couple lying in the dirt road! Completely chilled and did not bother to get up before the car was quite close. Even then they just leisurely moved on into the vast landscape. A hunted herd would be extremely stressed and run far away! The northern and southern […]

Junellia uniflora

A decorative plant in or out of bloom. I guess many rock-garden enthusiasts would like it in their garden! Altitude: 4232 metres.

Junellia uniflora

In certain areas it is very common and you’ll see both color variants. The white variety. Altitude: 4232 metres.

Crested Duck (Lophonetta specularioides)

Here at the Laguna Cañapa the ducks were not at all disturbed by humans, and I could get quite close to this individual busy cleaning itself. Altitude: 4136 metres. It sounds like this:

Golden-spotted Ground Dove (Metriopelia aymara)

Due to the midday sun, the light is very hard, and the golden spots on the wing barely visible. The morning or evening sun would have revealed some brilliantly iridescent golden feathers. Thanks to Niels Larsen for identification. Altitude: 4145 metres. Unfortunately no song recording available – only wingnoise registered so far.

Lobelia oligophylla

Grows alongside the springs, streams, rivers and some lagoons. Altitude: 4131 metres.

Altiplano plant 07

Grows alongside the springs, streams, rivers and some lagoons. Please help my identify it – leave a comment 🙂 Altitude: 4131 metres.

Patosia clandestina

Patosia clandestina

A common plant that makes huge, dense mats around the springs, streams, rivers and some areas of the lagoons. Everything about this plant is hard and pointy. Altitude: 4131 metres.

Laguna Cañapa

Only a tiny speck of snow is left on the mountain, but in the winter even this lagoon is sometimes covered with snow and ice. Altitude: 4131 metres.

Laguna Cañapa

The color of the water in this lagoon looks so temptingly blue and fresh, but it is most likely undrinkable to humans. From afar though, this is an ever changing work of art. If I only had time, like where I live, I would sit here for hours on end, watching as everything changes. The […]

Laguna Hedionda

This lagoon was by far the most abundant with flamingos. Altitude: 4126 metres.

James’s Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi)

It appears as if it’s floating or even swimming! Beauty to me, but bare necessity to the flamingo! Altitude: 4119 metres. It sounds like this:

Grey-breasted Seedsnipe (Thinocorus orbignyianus)

Not particularly disturbed by human presence, and Laguna Cañapa offered a close encounter, albeit not with both sexes. Thanks to Lou Salomon for identification. Altitude: 4125 metres. It sounds like this:

Andean Gull (Chroicocephalus serranus)

The only Andean gull I saw nesting, and this one has done what many have done before – steal the nest from a Flamingo. Apparently the flamingos will abort their incubation or nest building with very little disturbance. I doubt the gull managed to build this structure, or mend one from last year, but then […]

James’s Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi)

Even at these muddy sections of the lagoon, the flamingos find food that seemingly outweighs the energy spent ovecoming the suction of the mud. A few flaps of the wings and they easily move forward. Any human would have struggled very hard, but the beautiful flamingos are much more hardy than you could possibly imagine! […]

Parastrephia lucida

Grows between the shores of the lagoon and the desert. Here they are about 2 metres tall. Altitude: 4135 metres. Thanks to Christian Bravard for identification.

Parastrephia lucida

A bush that grows between the shores of the lagoon and the desert. Here they are about 2 metres tall. Altitude: 4135 metres. Thanks to Christian Bravard for identification.

Baird’s Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii)

Present in many of the lagoons and in large numbers in Laguna Colorada. It sounds like this: Altitude: 4129 metres.

Xenophyllum incisum (Asteraceae)

The flowers were less torn here at this small lagoon compared to Laguna Colorada. Altitude: 4139 metres.

Siloli desert lagoon (unknown name)

There are countless lagoons in this desert, and each of them unique in shape and color! No matter how close or wide your view is, this desert provides immense beauty as far as colors are concerned. When you take the altitude into account, it’s quite astonishing that many of the lagoons are brimming with life […]

Puna Tinamou (Tinamotis pentlandii)

My time here coincided with chick-time for the Puna Tinamous, and I was lucky enough to encounter this litter. Without chicks the adult would fly off long before I could come this close, but even earth-bound it was incredibly cunning and fast and very hard to track in the landscape dotted with vegetation. The chicks […]

Star trails over the Siloli desert

This is just a few kilometres from the Chilean border and here the sleeping and lodging options are almost non-existent, and being so remote and in a desert you’d never expect to find it either, except that there is one decent option here called Tayka del Desierto. This high-altitude service is where I gazed in […]

Siloli desert stars

Being a desert the air is dry, and here you can see starsets! Usually only the sun or moon and the planets shine bright enough to be seen all the way to the horizon, but here all the stars seen high in the sky are also equally visible all the way to the horizon. In […]

Sol de Mañana

This was a foul smelling location, and also high enough for my headache to return, so this was a quick visit to smell, look and shoot. The intense smell comes from sulphur springs dotting the landscape here, and being exposed just a little while is very unpleasant. Altitude: 4859 metres.

Chilean Flamingo (Phoenicopterus chilensis)

My expectations to see Flamingos were met in excess! All the lagoons had one or more of the 3 species, and their beauty and grace was magnified by their incredible environment, ranging from the reddest of reds to crystal clear lagoons with no trace of salinity. It was late in the day, and the sun […]

James’s Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus jamesi)

From afar the flamingos all seem to be the same species. This species is identified by the red legs, that the black tip on the bill is much smaller than the other 2 species found here as well as the carmine-red streaks on the back and lower chest. The environment in which these flamingos thrive […]

Laguna Colorada

This lagoon simply defies logic! Seeing this lagoon for the first time made me think of a chemical spill or some other human made disaster. In the middle of this barren expanse a lagoon with colors ranging from the intense red to the whitest of whites, and in the middle of this – life! Lots […]

Laguna Colorada

If you ever wondered why many of the Flamingo species are red or pink, look no further! This is the reddest lagoon I’ve ever seen, an eating from it will certainly taint you red in some way or other – just like eating lots of carrots! This mesmerizing red is from sediments and algae and […]

Laguna Colorada

This is shot towards the low evening sun, and the contrast gives the appearance that he lagoon is just slightly red, and even blue close to the shore. The dust cloud is also made very prominent in this high contrast angle against the low sun. It seems as if the lake is boiling! It looks […]

Xenophyllum incisum (Asteraceae)

This salt and mineral tolerant plant thrives here and has generated large mats close to the water. Further down there is only naked shores which every odd years will be flooded. The last time was a couple of years ago when the desert got about 2 metres of snow in a couple of days. Altitude: […]

Xenophyllum incisum (Asteraceae)

This hardy plant grows where the high watermark is, and is thus very salt and mineral tolerant. You can see the salt and mineral deposits to the bottom right. Altitude: 4300 metres.

Altiplano bog

A bog in a desert? How can that be? It’s possible due to stable springs. These springs feed small streams, rivers, and ultimately the many lagoons found here. This is in fact no ordinary bog as we know from European lowlands, as much is quite hard to walk on due to the buildup not from […]

Laguna Colorada

My first sight of this incredible lagoon which is tinted red from the sediments and algae! The white is the mineral Borax (Sodium tetraborate decahydrate), which unfortunately is widely used by humans, and therefore is extracted from many of these lagoons, poisoning the flamingos as well as disturbing them during their breeding season and thus […]

Laguna Capina

This lagoon seemed without any flamingos, and it’s probably due to the extensive extraction of the white mineral borax (Sodium tetraborate decahydrate) seen here. Altitude: 4561 metres.

Cactus (Cumulopuntia boliviana)

When the flower is gone, the remaining part is well protected from being reached, so what species is the fruit aimed at? Only insects and small rodents will reach the fruit unharmed, so perhaps that’s it? Altitude: 4004 metres.

Cactus (Cumulopuntia boliviana)

This is the yellowish variant of this species found here on the Bolivian Altiplano. It appears it does not grow to the huge size of the orange variant (Cumulopuntia boliviana ssp. ignescens)), and also the orange variant seems to bloom a bit earlier than the yellowish species. Altitude: 4004 metres.

Andean hairy armadillo (Chaetophractus nationi)

My first and only sighting the this species, and I was in luck as this species is hunted to such an extent that it’s now red listed as vulnerable by IUCN. How much so became clear as my driver ran up to the animal and looked at it more as a food item than an […]

Dust Devil

This dust devil came so close to the car that the driver simply stopped and seemed a bit scared of what was going to happen. I on the other hand was very excited and hoped it was getting even closer, as I knew the worst that would happen would be a huge amount of volcanic […]

Dust Devil

At midday the heat of the sun has created a turbulent atmosphere, and here resulted in a beautiful dust devil. One of many during my few days here, but in fact only 3 grew to such well defined tornado-like “suckers” like this one. This is beautiful to watch but is really just an indication of […]

Yareta (Azorella compacta)

Yareta (Azorella compacta)

This enormous and partially dying specimen is growing by one of many incredibly beautiful rock outcrops here called Valle de las Rocas, or Rock Valley. Even in this photo an artistic face with a huge eye appears. The living Yareta only adds to the wonder as its shape and age seems to blend in with […]

Rock Valley (Valle de las Rocas) & Southern viscacha (Lagidium viscacia)

In a garden of rock formations resembling many different animals I was baffled to suddenly stand in front of this Viscacha monitoring my movements. It’s like I met the only living guardian of that day, and it was checking me out. Apparently I was an acceptable visitor that had recognized what is here, as it […]

Rock Valley (Valle de las Rocas)

One of the many “sculptures” in this amazing place, that seemed without any kind of face or specific form. Still I think there is a wolf-like head on the top looking to the right. You can sit here for hours and see new appearances in the rock formations around you, and all are changing throughout […]

Rock Valley (Valle de las Rocas)

Yet another animal, and to me perhaps a dolphin’s face. Later in the day or even under the starry sky it might look like another creature. A different angle and it is simply a rock. Hundreds of years on it will be gone forever. This garden of sculptures is like nothing I’ve ever seen, and […]

Rock Valley (Valle de las Rocas)

Most are unable to see nature’s never ending miracles – from the smallest of scales to the large. They stand amidst it all but are filled with thoughts of the future or the past and simply do not see. Some places are just powerful to the senses of the human body, but also way beyond […]

Rock Valley (Valle de las Rocas)

Many kilometres before I got to here, I noticed a very unusual rock formation in the landscape. Like a fissure from which Earth has had time to have fun and be creative. True it was once a fissure and volcanic, but at some point it cooled and the erosion set in. Ever since this place […]

Andean Goose (Chloephaga melanoptera)

This large duck is unmistakable and very conspicuous, and I saw several of them here at River Alota. A haven in the middle of the dusty desert! Altitude: 3836 metres. It sounds like this:

Andean Flamingo (Phoenicoparrus andinus)

The huge, dry Altiplano is not without water. Several springs feed lagoons and rivers – even in the deepest of the dry season. This is River Alota, shallow and crystal clear, and surprisingly has a large amount of fish! Not a place I would expect to find flamingos, but this location has sufficient life for […]

Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax hoactli)

This shallow river is teaming with life and fish – in the middle of the desert. I wonder how the fish could end up here – are they remnants of the time when the Altiplano was part of the Pacific? In any case they make up a good portion of the Heron’s diet, and they […]

Altiplano butterfly 01

One of very few butterflies I saw on the Altiplano. In the Amazon there’s a lack of salt and they sometimes swarm aound sweat or urine stains in the landscape. Here it’s plenty of salt, but perhaps not so much pollen. Please help my identify it – leave a comment. Altitude: 3838 metres.

Darwin’s Rhea (Rhea pennata garleppi)

This South American version of the African Ostrich seems out of place here almost 4000 metres high on the Altiplano, but this is it’s environment! Even in this park it’s wary of humans, so it seems it’s still hunted, or at least this generation has been hunted (they live to around 11 years). Also called […]