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ATACAMA DESERT - THE DRIEST DESERT IN THE WORLD

Atacama

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THE ATACAMA DESERT

THE ATACAMA DESERT is considered the world's highest and driest desert, where sand dunes, volcanoes, jetting geysers and crusty salt lakes make for an amazing collection of geologic episodes. The desert stretches along the coast of Chile to the south where one of the highlights must be a visit to the village of San Pedro de Atacama.


Atacama

The Atacama Desert is over 15 million years old and offers some of the most fascinating and dramatic visual treats for visitors of the area. This desert contains numerous attractions that have turned San Pedro de Atacama, town into a hot spot for travelers from all over the world. On its dirt streets one can see hundreds of tourists with a mix of languages and experiences from the various journeys that can be taken through the desert geography.


San Pedro de Atacama is the land of the indigenous atacameños or kunzas, an ancient culture that developed around a fertile oasis. Hundreds of years later, the town is a bustling international tourist center. This town offers a large variety of places to stay, from budget rooms to sophisticated boutique hotels. The variety of restaurants allows for choosing between various options, from small inns with typical Chilean cuisine to fusion restaurants on Caracoles Street. San Pedro de Atacama is also well-known for its nightlife. A visit to the Church of San Pedro is a must. Although it has required various repairs, its walls date back to 1744, and ever since, it has been the center for the main festivities. The Museum "Padre Le Paige"is another important spot, where you can learn more about the rich heritage of the "Atacameños", the pre-columbian culture.


The altitude and dryness of the area also make it a top stargazing site and a visit to the Moon Valley promises breathtaking views of the salt ponds and surrounding snow-capped volcanoes. Another highlight of the area are the small geysers situated on a geothermal field of fumaroles, namely, the El Tatio Geysers at more than 4,300 meters (14,104 ft) above sea level not even the altitude can stop the visitor from enjoying this spectacle. Los Flamencos National Reserve accounting for much of the rich fauna of these inhospitable places; and the villages of Toconao and Socaire show facets of a form of life inherited from the ancestral towns.


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