[dropcap]I[/dropcap]’ve written about it a few times now, but I really loved the few days I spent in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile. Known as the driest place on earth, Atacama has so many epic landscapes, it’s hard not to continuously snap your camera.
During the day, take a tour or rent a car and travel to some of the desert’s most famous landmarks. At night, go stargazing. While I already wrote a quick guide to get you started, I thought I’d share some of my favorite photos as well. Here are some incredible landscapes you can only find in the Atacama Desert.
15 Epic Landscapes in the Atacama Desert
We made the mistake of riding bikes to Valle de la Luna. Don’t be like us (unless that’s your thing), and rent a car instead! Most of the tours only go for golden hour, so you’ll be with a huge crowd. Earlier on or the middle of the day it’s nearly empty.
It’s always a little strange to be sweating and seeing snow on the ground simultaneously. One of the things you can do when you first enter Valle de la Luna is a hike around these caves. We were definitely not expecting it to be as labor intensive as it was, and it pretty much tired us out for the rest of the ride. If you do go, be prepared with your phone flashlight or an actual flashlight! I think we both hit our heads or scraped a knee at some point.
A stop during our day tour. These are the Piedra Rojas (or red rocks), and the colors are gorgeous. Crystal clear lagoons, ruddy rocks, and clear skies. While there were a few people exploring the rocks at the same time of us, it wasn’t remotely crowded (at least not in the way I’m used to in Asia).
We stopped at this town for lunch, and I just thought this church was the loveliest thing. Imagine living somewhere where you’re so close to a snowcapped mountaintop! Also, while we didn’t get major altitude sickness, I got really tired and felt dehydrated by the end of our tour, despite drinking a decent amount of water.
This was actually the first photo I took! On our long drive from Calama to San Pedro, I couldn’t stop staring at this landscape. I asked our driver if he wouldn’t mind stopping so I could just quickly snap a picture, and he kindly obliged.
This is at the salt flats we went to first thing in the morning. It was actually really hard to get a proper photo of the flamingos as they constantly had their heads buried in the water. Golden hour in the desert. I’m also a little obsessed with this mountain.And, of course, don’t miss out on stargazing! Seriously, the sky is so clear, you can see straight to the Milky Way. If you don’t know a lot of about astronomy, I’d definitely suggest an astronomy tour. It’s so much more special when you know what you’re looking at than just staring at all the stars blankly.
So, are you ready to book your flight?