The Most Amazing iPhone Photography in Atacama

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.

Valle de la Luna AtacamaThat’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.

Atacama salt fieldsMy 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!

Atacama desertThis 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.

Atacama vegetationIn 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.

Atacama sunset

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.

Atacama petrocliffsDriving 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.

Atacama salt fields

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.

Atacama sunsetBecause 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?

San Pedro De AtacamaThe 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.

Atacama llama

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.

Got some iPhone photography tips? Do share below…

Inside St Tropez – A Photo Blog

St Tropez is a small town located in the South of France, also known as the French Riviera. It was an unassuming fishing village until the beginning of the 20th century. After the world war II, it became an internationally known seaside resort, renowned principally because of the influx of French artists. Later, it became a resort for the European and American jet setters and a goal for tourists in search of a little Provençal authenticity and an occasional celebrity sighting.

St Tropez skyline

Although weather is temperate year round, peak season to visit St Tropez is summer when its warm and sunny, perfect for water activities. Here is a painting depicting the forecast for St Tropez.

best time to visit st tropez

The port in St Tropez can hold upto 800 yachts at a time. Advance reservations are required to pull into the harbor and spots closes to the boardwalk are generally more expensive. The yacht owners want to show off their beauties to everyone. It is simply the place to see and be seen!

port of st tropez

Once the yachts come to St Tropez, they spend couple of days docked. This is when the owners can enjoy the flavors of town – eating, drinking and shopping. There are lots of bars, cafes and restaurants that offer authentic French cuisine. Senequier is the oldest bar dating back to 1887, overlooking the harbor.

oldest restaurant in St Tropez

Sailors from all over the world brought pieces that can be seen in architectural elements throughout the city. From 890–972, Saint-Tropez and its surroundings became an Arabic-Muslim colony dominated by the nearby Saracen settlement of Fraxinet.

Arabic door in St Tropez

St Tropez has a high saturation of designer boutiques, mostly from France and Italy. Concept stores by Chanel, Dolce and Gabbana and others boast a mansion showroom with swimming pool and gardens for their shoppers to stroll around.

chanel concept store St Tropez

St Tropez is also famous for its Provençal style homes with pink-orange colors, narrow cobblestone streets and surrounded by beautiful dark blue waters. Locals spend the day enjoying fresh seafood and rose wine with ice cubes at neighboring Pampelonne Beach.

st tropes streets and beaches

Postcard Views of Portofino

Portofino is a small fishing village located on the Tyrrenian Sea in the Liguria region of Italy. Known for its picturesque harbor, it is a famous destination for vacationers and celebrity residents on the Italian Riviera.

portofino photo

Portofino does not have an airport or train station. I highly recommend arriving by boat or bus, although you can also walk or drive to it. Hourly ferries run from neighboring towns, ferry services from Santa Margherita Ligure, Portofino, Rapallo, Chiavari, Lavagna, Sestri Levante to Portovenere and Cinqueterre and to Genoa’s port. From the water, you can get an extraordinary 360 perspective of the colorful building along the harbor.

portofino

Although the port itself is quite commercial, the backdrop of colorful buildings leaning onto each other and the turquoise blue waters adds a magical appearance to the landscape. Some would call it a “tourist trap” as there are lots of expensive restaurants, bars and shops alongside the port. In my opinion, you go to Portofino to admire its beautiful architecture and scenery, not to get an authentic meal.

portofino3

Spend some time taking the stairs up to Castello Brown on one end and Church of St. Martin (Divo Martino) on the other. Walking through narrow cobblestone alleys with perfumed gardens are great ways to explore the old town and get away from the hustle and bustle of tourists. On the way, you will come across many photo opportunities.

portofino2

Another good walk is through the gardens of Hotel Splendido, located at the top of the hill in a cozy corner. Visitors can enjoy the view from the property for free, but if you want to stay around to have a lunch or cocktails, be prepared to bring your credit card.

portofino1

There are cheaper and local snacking options that are native to the region. When in Liguria, you have to try the Focaccia alla Genovese, a flat bread baked with olive oil, salt and herbs (such as rosemary). Although the flavors are simple, the freshness of the ingredients makes it hard to resist munching through many squares of the bread.

portofino6Paciugo is an Italian Riviera sundae found especially in Portofino. A few restaurants seems to carry this sweet concoction of vanilla ice cream and raspberry sorbet, mixed with fresh whipped cream, strawberries and stewed cherries. It’s definitely worth 12 Euros for a cup!

portofino5

Click here to read more on traveling in Italy.

Listen to the song Love in Portofino by Andrea Bocelli. 

Book your stay at Hotel Splendido