Snow melt water finds this low place in the high Atacama desert of Chile and evaporates, leaving behind sodium chloride, sulfate, carbonate and pools of brine.
Small shrimp feed on algae and proliferate. Four kinds of Flamingo have arisen to exploit the shrimp. In what has become the National Reserve of the Flamingoes the birds use those strange beaks to shovel up islands of salt for their nests.
Migrating Baird’s sandpiper and Wilson’s phalarope are also present, according to rangers. Only a fraction of the valley is inhabited. The rest is an untouched garden of crystals.