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Atacama Desert

The Atacama is the highest and driest desert of the world, some 50 times drier than Death Valley. Its soil has been established to be very similar to samples taken on Mars, which is why the desert is often used by NASA to test their Mars instruments for their missions. The landscape of Atacama is varied and surprising. Here you will find mesmerizingly white vast salt flats spotted with dancing flamingoes in brilliant pink, steamy bubbling hot springs and sprouting geysers, bizarre land formations and fertile ravines and oases which unique fruits, giant cactuses and an abundance of wildlife like the furry vizcachas, cousins of the chinchilla, in their rocky dens, and the burrowing parakeets. You will be amazed that this driest corner of the world sustains such an abundance of flora and fauna.
It is also a land with an ancient culture inhabited by the Atacamenos, indigenous people who have lived here for thousands of years. These nomadic tribes domesticated the llamas and alpacas and semi-settled in this region developing some limited agricultural farming. Their adoption of the Christian religion under Spanish rule, include vestiges of the Atacamenos’ own religious ceremonies which makes for a fascinating and colorful mixture of religious and traditional festivities throughout the year in most of towns and settlements here.
The wealth and diversity of its natural and cultural experiences available here has encouraged the development of luxurious lodgings that provide for luxury adventure and explorations that ensure you can fully appreciate the wonders of this remote region. Most of these are around the city of San Pedro de Atacama. It is an ancient oasis village about 2500m above sea level where much of the tourism in this region is based. You will find the ancient ruins of Pukara de Quitor within the town’s limits. From your luxury lodge nearby, you can experience the living culture of the locals in this Atacama village as well as set off for the many explorations in the surrounding desert and altiplano, which could take you above 4000m above sea level.
Atacama and most of northern Chile also have the clearest skies on the planet and its location makes it ideal to see stars that can only be seen from this region. It's also home to a number of astronomical observatories of which the most impressive – Cerro Paranal and the Alma Project –confirm the region's status as a land of magical discovery. A number of the luxury lodges here have their own telescopes that will allow you to also explore the mysteries of the skies above you