The north of Chile is the home to the driest desert in the world. Locals will tell you that The San Pedro de Atacama Desert has not had any rain since 1870! It has, however, rained or even snowed once or twice in some areas of the desert during this time. The oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama is found on the immense Salt Lake and you will see some of the starriest skies ever, due to zero light pollution. Despite its aridity, the desert is the home to a wide range of flora and fauna with its guanacos, vicuñas, iguanas, flamingos and hummingbirds. The desert has been closely related to Mars due to the similarity of its surface. Even movies have been filmed in this region, A Space Odyssey being the most famous.
The Moon Valley in Atacama is made from stone formations - moulded by millennia of wind and water that jut out from the ground like spikes on the back of a dinosaur,offering an appearance of the surface of the moon. It is easy to understand where the name of the Moon valley comes from. Towering snow-capped volcanos and The Andean mountain range form the skyline. The tallest and most famous of them all is Volcan Licancabur (in the native tongue – Mountain of the People), regarded as a holy mountain. This unique valley is a must in The North of Chile.
San Pedro de Atacama is a top destination for many. The driest desert in the world is a popular stop-off for most travellers, especially those coming from Peru in the North. The desert is a mixture of salt flats, high elevation geysers, volcanoes and moonlike landscapes. The highlights of the area are Redrocks, Salar de Talar, Miscanti and Miñiques lagoons, The rainbow valley and while you are here, why not visit ALMA? This incredible observatory is the most powerful on planet and has been studying other galaxies for some time now!
The Atacama desert is blessed with stunning and colourful high-altitude lagoons, made all the more beautiful for the backdrop of the arid, high desert. Not only are these high elevation lakes stunning, there are many migratory birds that visit these lagoons such as pink flamingos, that add to the spectacular scenery. The Chaxa lagoon is best for flamingo spotting and the Miscanti Lagoon sits under an active volcano of the same name. Moments away, is the Miñiques Lagoon is a rich, deep indigo colour and an excellent place for spotting the native, wild vicunas.