Atacama Desert

Atacama Desert, Antofagasta, Antofagasta Region, Chile

The Atacama is the driest desert in the world, and so still that the silence can be deafening. A series of natural wonders here includes geysers, glaciers, and valleys that resemble the surface of the moon. But perhaps the most jaw-dropping feature is not the desert itself but the sky. So just look up. At sunset, the colors of the heavens begin to change from light- to dark-blue shades, then lilac, deep purple, and magenta, fading finally into a startlingly clear black against which a million stars twinkle. The Atacama Desert is a magical place that evokes superlatives from even the most experienced travelers.

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Amazed by the Laguna Verde

4200 meters above sea level, we reached the shores of Laguna Verde after several hours in our jeep with 3 other travelers, who quickly became our friends after many days together venturing this other-world-like terrain. The landscape amazed us with every turn. Besides the 5 travelers and our driver, Juan, these flamingos were the only other signs of life we saw (the Atacama desert is known as the driest place on earth). We arrived in San Pedro de Atacama in Chile and arranged a 3 day jeep tour there. Little could prepare us for the bizarre landscapes we would be encountering on this voyage.

Atacama Alien

After traveling overland for three days through the Atacama desert in southern Bolivia, this alien green rock could not stick out more. The area is dry, brown and vast, yet all of a sudden this strange, bright green rock lives. It was beautiful, rough and looked great against the arid desert and blue bird sky. After doing a little research I found out that it was lichen. Certainly one of highlights of my four day adventure.

Discovering the Atacama

San Pedro de Atacama, located in Northern Chile, is a city composed of clay buildings and dirt streets waiting hungrily for the next group of tourists. The city is made up of mainly natives who survive off of the land and tourism. Despite the high number of tourists year round, San Pedro has a very primitive feel to it. In this small community, you learn to live in simplicity; put away the cell phones and computers and enjoy the beautiful scenery and the unique people around you. The Atacama Desert, which is the driest in the world, provides visitors with an endless list of adventure; from sand boarding to star Gazing, from bike trips to bus tours – There is something for everyone. Top places to visit include Valle de la Luna (a lunar valley with sand dunes and unearthly rock formations), El Tatio Geysers (14,200 feet above sea level with over 80 active geysers), and Laguna Cejar (a blue lake with high levels of salt and lithium allowing visitors to float effortlessly on the surface). A bus tour will get the job done, but if you truly want to explore and experience the Atacama, I suggest a bike trip through the desert. You won’t miss the giant green tree whose home is right in the middle of a desolate, cracked, and dry desert floor.

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