The Atacama Desert in Chile is the driest place on Earth. On a recent trip with Yampu Tours and Awasi Atacama, I explored some of the most amazing landscapes I had ever seen. While Atacama is a photographer’s dream destination, its breathtaking beauty can be captured with no special equipment too. From parched deserts, expansive salt fields, and star studies skies, to local wildlife, here are some of the unedited photos I took with my iPhone 6.
That’s me overlooking Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) in Atacama. There was nothing but rocks and sand as far as my eyes can see. The soil here is rich in gypsum and clay, which gives it red-orange colors.
My guide from Awasi Atacama took me to off the tourist paths in the Moon Valley, where we could see giant crystals of salt intact. They looked like snowflakes but when I got closer, they were rock solid!
This is to give you an idea of how dry the land actually is, allowing nothing but a few bushes of Rica Rica to grow. The locals use leaves from this bush to make tea and desserts.
In a land where nothing grows, there are 17 agricultural oasis such as these. The water is diverted through a canal/ drip system. I saw trees of oranges, lemons, quince, and pomegranate sustaining few people and their livestock in these areas.
A beautiful sunset in the high plateau of the Atacama desert, located close to Laskar (5th most active in Chile). The colors of the sky changed from blue to orange, yellow, pink, red, blue and then black, as temperatures dropped from 60s to 0F in just matter of minutes.
Driving up to see the petroglyphs from 10,000 years ago at Yerbas Buenas. I hiked down into the valley to find over a thousand prehistoric petroglyphs well intact depicting llamas and people.
Salar de Atacama (salt fields) located an hour away from San Pedro. There are lots of lagunas (lakes) in the area where you can see salt and flamingoes, with the background of mountains and picture perfect sunsets.
Because of the thin atmosphere and high UV rays, the cloud cover in the Atacama is an ever changing dance show. This one looks like a UFO, doesn’t it?
The village of San Pedro De Atacama has a population of 2,500 but is the main spot for tourists to stay, eat, and book tours from in this area. It is centrally located to major attractions, while still offering a small desert town feel.
While I saw many llamas all over Chile, this one stood out. He wanted to come very close to my camera, while his mom photobombed the portrait. Taken at the town of Toconao, in the background is the famous Laskar volcano.
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