4 Things about the Atacama Desert

Chile Travel Posted on 04/12/2018

What do you think of when someone talks about a desert? Do you think of a barren land of nothing for as far as the eye can see? Do you think of just a waste of space, nothingness? At SayHueque, we know that a desert can be a marvelous thing, worth visiting. Why is that? The Atacama Desert will change the way you think of land regions called deserts. Let’s see some facts about the Atacama Desert!

1. Where is the Atacama Desert?

The Atacama desert is found to the north of Santiago, roughly 20 hours by bus or a short 2-hour ride by plane. It’s found in Northern Chile and is located between the coast of the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountain Range.

2. How dry is it?

The Atacama Desert is considered the driest, non-polar desert in the world. That means outside of those barren lands of ice and snow where the polar bears roam, the Atacama receives the least amount of rainfall. In fact, there are so parts of this desert that haven’t seen rain in years.

With the Andes mountains blocking rain clouds from entering the area and the currents of the Pacific Ocean combined with the 7,000-foot elevation of the desert land, it’s easy to understand why rain rarely falls.

Being such a remote place, with the Pacific Ocean on one side and the Andes Mountains on the other, there is practically zero artificial light to adulterate your view of the southern hemisphere stars. Hundreds of thousands upon hundreds of thousands of stars will illuminate the light as you gawk at what astronomers call the best place in the world to view these jewels of the sky. A few of the planet’s largest telescopes are located in this region and have resulted in some of the most amazing discoveries in modern astronomy.

  • Get stunned: go stargazing in the Atacama Desert!


3. What is the desert? or more, what is there to see there? 

Well, it’s considered to be over 40,000 square miles of many out-of-this-world landscapes. In it, you can find smoking volcanoes with flowing lava, gigantic sand dunes larger than you’ve ever seen, winding and jagged canyons that extend for miles into the distance, but also massive salt falts that distort your sense of reality, and incredible geysers that truly capture how diverse the world is.

In such a place so barren, it’s hard to believe that you could find anything so spectacular, but that is not the case. Each year more and more travelers make their way up to northern Chile to witness this remote phenomenon. A tiny oasis comes to the rescue for travelers in the area to rest in.

4. Are there people there?

Yes and no. The Atacama is close to the border of Bolivia, Argentina, and Chile, well at least part of it is. However, the place considered to be the main town in the Atacama is considered to be San Pedro de Atacama. This very old town has been occupied for hundreds of years and still has some of its original adobe brick walls from its traditional inhabitants. It is the most popular place for people to stay in the north of Chile.

What are you waiting for? It is time to take the sandy road to northern Chile. Don’t worry, Atacama isn’t as hard to get to, as it seems. San Pedro de Atacama is located about 1,600 kilometers north of the Chilean capital Santiago. Tourists can take a 20-hour bus to a nearby city of Calama before taking the beautiful paved highway to San Pedro de Atacama. Buses are very comfortable and run overnight. Also, travelers can shell out a little more money for a plane ride to Calama before making their way to San Pedro de Atacama as well. Flights run during the week and on weekends.

The Atacama Desert is one of the most unique places in the entire world and you will not regret seeing its stunning sights. Nature’s finest resides in this remote part of the world, and it is waiting for your visit. Chile may just be your dream destination. 


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