Laguna Colorada is located in Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve (REA) in Bolivia. It is also closely located to the Chilean border.
Getting to Laguna Colorada
To enter the REA, most people book a 3D-2N tour with an agency. During these tours you visit more breathtaking places than just the LC. Due to its location, tours are offered from two main cities: Uyuni in Bolivia and San Pedro de Atacama in Chile.
When you book a tour, everything is organized for you and you will be picked up at your hostel. Tour operators work in groups of 6, so do not worry about being stuck with 20 people on a bus! I have also heard of people renting a 4×4 and entering the park on their own as a day trip, however I am not sure how easily this is done and to what additional costs.
I have also heard and seen people bike through the reserve. Due to the remote area and the altitude, I would say this is only for the really determined ones.
The entrance fee to the reserve is around 150 Bolivian soles when you are with an operator. I do not know the prices for private visits. Due to the high amount of agencies offering the tours, the prices can vary a lot.
There is also a small difference in pricing if you start in Uyuni or San Pedro. Uyuni generally offers cheaper options. We came from Chile and had our trip and budget set out for this, so we spend a little more money. 210 euro´s per person. This includes transport in a 4×4, hostel pick up, meals, accommodation. This did not include the price to enter the national reserve and the option to enter into the geysers (recommended if cold and if you have altitude sickness haha)
Where to stay
The remote area only allows you to stay in hostels and hotels run by the very few locals living there. You could call it a homestay if you like. Where you will stay, depends on the tour operator. The accommodation is often primitive, and sometimes sleeping in a dorm is required one night.
How much time will you need there
30 to 70 min will give you enough time to walk down to the lake and take plenty of pictures. There are 2 sides you can go onto, and they are both stunning.
When is the best time to visit Laguna Colorada
Unfortunately, all tour operators visit Laguna Colorada. Not all at the same time, but eventually along their route. There´s no predicting what time is best. We visit in January, during rainy season (it started exceptionally early this year). While we were there, there was a storm above the lake creating a breathtaking view.
What to do at Laguna Colorada
Go for a walk around the edges of the lake or sit down and just enjoy the view (as on my picture). There are many more lakes in this area worth a view, so I would recommend visiting them also (such as Laguna Verde).
What not to do
Don´t disobey the instructions considering wildlife protection. Dont walk outside the designated places. Dont feed animals and don’t litter.
As a tourist trap, you might think about the extra fees for showering or charging your electronics. However, the amount is very very low, so I did not see it this way. It is just the locals trying to make a tiny bit more money for their services. If you take a charger which can be plugged into a car, they you safe a bit of money. Take enough water as it helps against altitude sickness. You can also buy coca leafs before your departure and make tea out of it. For some people this really help, as they got pretty sick of the altitude rise. We did not experience it so bad, but if you think you need it, I would buy it to make sure. Sometimes you can also ask your driver for some leafs. Coca tea is a wondercure.
Why should Laguna Colorada be on my bucket list?
Not only Laguna Colorada, but the whole Eduardo Avaroa Andean Fauna National Reserve should be on your bucket list, including the Uyuni Salt Flats. Our whole trip to South America kind of revolved around it, and it did not disappoint. You´ll have to endure altitude, chilly weather, and basic accommodation and food but at the end it is more than worth it. The spectacular nature , the views and wildlife will definitely be rewarding. I have never experienced nature and remoteness as it is there. I cannot explain it, you really just need to go!
(best time to visit salar to get mirror pictures is during rainy season!!! ALSO WORTH IT)