The ecological catastrophe that turned a vast Bolivian lake into a salt desert
Lake Poopó is now a salt flat, and its vanishing waters are taking an indigenous community’s way of life with them
ORURO, BOLIVIA — The remainder of an ancient sea at the heart of South America is fast becoming a memory: a white expanse of salt stretches for miles, with just a smear of red, brackish water at its southern edge.
Lake Poopó was once Bolivia’s second largest body of water, but when asked how to get to the lake today, locals correct a visitor. “You mean the ex-lake; the salt flat,” says Arminda Choque, 23, as she waits outside a mobile dental clinic in Llapallapani.