Supposedly the driest desert on earth, the Atacama presents a world of colour, oases and wildlife that will surprise even the most sceptical traveller.
Flying from Santiago, Chile to the Atacama Desert in the north, the dry, brown mountains seem endless. Eventually, I spy a trail of dust chasing a truck barrelling across the emptiness, and then green seeps into the landscape as the plane approaches Calama, the isolated mining town where we will land. My destination is San Pedro, a 75-minute drive southeast of the airport. The scenery does not improve en route – stony shades of brown alternate between flat and hilly until I arrive at the "oasis" town. Here there are trees that appear thirstier than I am. One-story homes are boxed in behind cracked and crumbling adobe walls...
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