Chile's Atacama Desert is a place of constant change. Steamy days give way to harsh nights, desert sands give way to sweeping salt flats, and, at any given time of day, the landscape could transform from dove-white to tan, coral, peach, mauve, and indigo.
The region has such a Martian appearance that NASA travels here to test its instruments for future missions to the Red Planet. In fact, the area between Antofagasta and Calama is so arid, it's commonly known as the driest place on Earth, where some weather stations have never once recorded a single drop of rain. Closer to the Andes, water runoff allows for a blanket of scrub, dazzling lagoons, and an abundance of wildlife.
Although the desert is sparsely populated, with most cities located along the Pacific Coast, a few oases offer respite from the desert winds. One of those is San Pedro, a town that dates back millennia and was the seat of the most advanced pre-Columbian society found in Chile.
San Pedro is a tourist's dream and the perfect base camp for exploring the region. Click Start to have a look.