Over 1000km long and trapped between your Pacific and the Andes this harsh and arid land is among the most inhospitable places on the planet. The days could be burning hot and the nights freezing; precipitation levels are so low that no rain has ever been recorded in a few areas. It could not appear to be a tempting spot to visit, but a land of such extremes can’t neglect to impress.

The lack of life and the wind-sculpted rocks give most of the landscapes an eerie Martian or lunar appearance. NASA have even used the region to check their autonomous vehicles created for the exploration of other planets.

Additionally it is the unlikely setting for an abundance of history and culture. The museum in San Pedro includes a fine assortment of artefacts and extraordinarily well preserved mummies from indigenous cultures. Recent studies can see that the ancient peoples of the region were utilizing sophisticated ways to mummify their dead a long time before the Egyptians.

The Incas also left their mark on the Atacama Desert, and also climbed a few of the 6000m peaks, where sacrificial burial sites have already been found. In the nineteenth century the British, within their search for sodium nitrate, built mining towns through the entire region. Once the dependence on these nitrates disappeared overnight the towns were abandoned and became ghost towns that still stand quite definitely because they did then.

The set of amazing places in the Atacama continues on – you can find emerald green lakes, geysers, live volcanoes, geoglyphs on hillsides, a salt desert populated by flamingos, oases, hot springs and much more.