Bolivia: Volcanoes, Flamingos, and Salt Lakes

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Ranging in altitude up to 16,500 feet above sea level, the wild, frigid desert of southwestern Bolivia is full of natural treasures. The harsh landscape is dominated by the towering Andean volcanoes and lakes or lagoons, which are actually basins, into which the meager snowmelt drains and cannot escape. These intensely colored, brackish lakes are home to some of the world's hardiest animals, namely three different species of flamingo. In cliffs near the lakes, bizcachas (a rabbit-sized rodent) are one of the few mammals in the region. The bizarre looking yareta also grows along the rugged rock faces. Resembling massive patches of moss, these huge, thick plants are thousands of years old. These are just some of the many wonders found in the highest desert in the world.