Far from being a desolate, arid wilderness, the Atacama desert is overflowing with life. Its ancient cultures offer a warm welcome to modern travelers, and fertile oasis sustain an astonishing diversity of life here in the world’s driest desert.
On the high Andean plateau, you’ll find small villages at up to 4,000 meters above sea level where timeless traditions linger in extreme and wonderfully photogenic settings.
Visit San Pedro de Atacama and explore its singular landscapes, quite unlike anywhere else on earth. Vast salt flats, active geysers and intense blue lagoons are just a few of the extraordinary features of this region. Journey to the stars and learn more about the constellations in one of the many famed astronomical observatories in the northern half of Chile.
Although the almost total lack of precipitation is the most prominent characteristic of the Atacama Desert, exceptions may occur. In July 2011, an extreme Antarctic cold front broke through the rain shadow, bringing 80 cm (31 in) of snow to the plateau, stranding residents across the region, particularly in Bolivia, where many drivers became stuck in snow drifts and emergency crews became overtaxed with a large number of rescue calls
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In the enormity of the desert you’ll find lagoons, salt flats and mountains that are intertwined with the landscape. Together they create magical sights! The peculiar rocky formations and dunes of Moon Valley (Valle de la Luna) and the changing colors of Mars Valley (Valle de Marte) and the Salt Mountains are an attraction that you can’t miss while visiting the Atacama Desert. At night, both places become the most romantic spot for stargazing.