Alluring moon-like landscapes and vast open spaces make the parched Atacama Desert an unforgettable destination. Simultaneously barren and full of wonder, the area receives just 15mm of rainfall per year, making it inhospitable for all but the most hardy animals; chinchilla-like vizcacha, pink flamingos and Andean foxes are among the species that have successfully adapted to the harsh conditions. One of the star attractions of the area is the beautifully eerie Valle de la Luna. As the light hits the dramatic ridges and geological formations of the dunes here, the dazzling light casts gloomy shadows extend dramatically at sunset, transforming the warm orange glow into dusk.
Other notable areas to explore include the charming adobe clay town of San Pedro de Atacama, the expansive flamingo-filled Atacama salt flats, deep blue lagoons, inviting hot springs and the bubbling mud pools at the Taito Geysers. With a high altitude and an absence of light pollution, this region is one of the most prized areas in the world for stargazing; evening introductions to the night sky can often be arranged through your hotel and come highly recommended.