Wish You Were Here: The Atacama Desert of Northern Chile
A sand dune and the "amphitheater" rock formation at Valle de La Luna
Any attempt to describe the wild terrain of Chile's Atacama Desert is an exercise in futility. To friends, we've likened this "driest place in the world" to the desert in Arizona or southern Utah, but we must admit the Atacama is actually quite indescribable. Forgive the oft-used idiom, but it has to be seen to be believed.
Flying into El Loa Airport (CJC) in Calama, the snow peaks of the jagged Andes fall away and the landscape transitions to a rusty palette of parched volcanic earth. You'll wonder: "what in the world have I gotten myself into?" The striated cliffs, towering dunes, and salt lagoon oases don't resemble anything that should be in this world. Mars maybe, but surely not Earth.
Later today we move on from the Atacama, journeying from this very northern bit of Chile to its southernmost point, at Punta Arenas. The destinations are the opposites of each other both literally and figuratively, but the air connections on LAN Airlines through the capital of Santiago are pleasantly seamless. This means that, yes, a visit to these extremes of Chile can be accomplished in one epic journey, provided you throw some gloves and polar fleece into your luggage alongside a swimsuit and suntan lotion.
Wish you were here!
Sunset on the volcanoes, wind on the surface of the salty Laguna Tebinquinche.
We traveled to the Atacama as a guest of LAN, but all photos, observations and opinions are completely our own.