ADVENTURE

The beauty of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places in the world

If you are travelling to South America, you cannot avoid visiting the Atacama Desert, one of the most beautiful and at the same time frightening places on earth. In fact, it is considered one of, if not the, driest place on earth.

Located between southern Peru and northern Chile, between the southern part of the Arica and Parinacota regions, and the northern part of the Atacama region, this place was also the scene of wars because of its enormous mining treasure. 

The beauty of this place, its vastness and danger, is a spectacle to be seen at least once in a lifetime.

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The beauty of the Atacama Desert, one of the driest places in the world
If you are travelling to South America, you cannot avoid visiting the Atacama Desert, one of the most beautiful and at the same time frightening places on earth. In fact, it is considered one of, if not the, driest place on earth. Located between southern Peru and northern Chile, between the southern part of the Arica and Parinacota regions, and the northern part of the Atacama region, this place was also the scene of wars because of its enormous mining treasure. The beauty of this place, its vastness and danger, is a sight to behold at least once in a lifetime.
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The driest place on earth
Much of the desert receives less than half an inch of rain per year, and some areas receive none at all for hundreds of years. Located in the northern third of Chile, between two mountain ranges, the Atacama is perhaps the oldest desert on Earth, having experienced extreme aridity for at least three million years.
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Why doens't it rain in the Atacama desert?
The reason why it does not rain in this particular portion of the world is purely scientific. The desert of Atacama is in fact a strip of land, 180 km narrow and 1600 km long that, although it faces the Pacific Ocean to the west, is totally narrowed to the east by the Andes Mountains: this mountain range, therefore, intercepts the moisture that comes from the Amazon. At the same time, the cold Humboldt current flowing deep into those ocean waters helps make cloud formation almost impossible, creating a constant state of high pressure that prevents precipitation.
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Perfect place to see the sky
Its extreme dryness makes it one of the clearest places on the planet to observe the night sky and it is home to the world's largest radio telescope, the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA).
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The valley of the moon
The Moon Valley is so called because of its lunar and even Mars-like appearance. In fact, this place is also used as a testing ground for spacecraft. For example, in 2003, a team of researchers published a report in the journal 'Science' in which they reported on the results of the replication in the Yungay region of the Atacama Desert of the experiments and tests carried out by the Viking 1 and Viking 2 spacecraft on the planet Mars to test for life.
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This desert, however, is not only dryness
It is very peculiar that it is such an arid place considering its altitude is over 2000 metres, with the highest mountains exceeding 4000. Its landscape, moreover, is something indescribable: massifs with truly bizarre shapes, turquoise lagoons, columns of boiling water (one of the most famous geysers in the world is found here) and endless seas of dunes. All complemented by the characteristic fauna of the Andes, consisting of vicunas, guanacos and llamas. A world to be discovered and traversed.
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A heritage for all humanity, to be preserved and protected
The ecoregion is home to three protected natural areas: the Pan de Azúcar National Park, the La Chimba National Reserve and the Pampa del Tamarugal National Reserve. In 2003, the discovery of a human foetus sparked theories about alleged extraterrestrial visitations in the region, attracting a large crowd of enthusiasts. Medical examinations, however, later brought down the house of cards, revealing a grimly terrestrial origin of the find.
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