High altitude deserts, salt flats, deformed rock/salt formations and smoking volcanoes are all things you can find just outside of the northern Chilean town of San Pedro de Atacama. Los Flamencos National Reserve is a stunning park spanning 73986 hectares, including the driest desert on earth. The Valley of the Moon is where NASA actually tested out the MARS Rover and once you wander this lunar like landscape it won’t be hard to figure out why. Exploring Laguna Miscanti and Miniques will literally take your breath away as these stunning high altitude bodies of water are located at 4100 meters in elevation. The Atacama Salt Flat is a weird world of deformed salt sculptures filled with Laguna’s where you’ll discover flamingos doing their one-legged balancing act while fishing for krill and shrimp. Don’t forget to visit El Tatio Geysers, one of the highest geyser fields in the world and the third largest found on this planet. First thing in the morning is the best time to view these steaming geysers as they spew out clouds of vapour into the chilly, early morning air. Don’t forget your bathing suit so you can take a dip in the natural, thermally-heated hot springs! If you’re looking to escape the heat of the afternoon head to Laguna Cejar, a natural cold water sink hole lake filled with salt water. The salinity of the water is similar to that of the Dead Sea, so you can float around without much effort while enjoying the incredible views of smoking volcanoes.
It’s worth making the trek out to the stunning and remote Salar de Tara. Located right on the boarder of both Bolivia and Argentina, you’ll feel like you’re the first person to stumble upon this lost world of flamingo filled lagunas, strange, towering rock formations and grassy plains complete with wild, wandering llama’s. If you ever have the chance, I highly recommend heading to San Pedro de Atacama and spending a week exploring this incredible reserve.
Location:San Pedro de Atacama, Chile