With a forecast of sunny for the next 100 years there is no wrong time to visit the Atacama Desert for an unforgettable adventure.

The Atacama Desert is located in Chile and part of a colossal flatland that stretches from the base of the Andes along into Argentina, Bolivia and Peru. If you have ever pondered what an existence on Mars might resemble than this has to be top of your bucket list; the Atacama Desert is actually used by Nasa to test space equipment. Without the restraints of an astronauts suit one can explore this foreign land far easier than the alternate option of Mars (and with the massive advantage of a return trip home). Massive creators, rocky canyons, owe inspiring salt flats and gargantuan mountain ranges with the odd active volcano thrown in for theatrics, this place couldn’t be more vast and different to the norm if it tried. Atacama is also one of the world’s most important astronomical hot spots, with three major international observatories calling this place home and taking full advantage of its crystal clear air and the ability to view the stars in all their glory.

The first thought on arrival is admiration of the fact that both flora and fauna can exist in such conditions (perhaps a indication that there could indeed be life out there?!?). Granted, there are not numerous land species, but the feathered kind more than make up for it. Stunning flamingos frequent the salt lakes, rare Conebill and the purple chested Woodstar are among the most popular to observe. The best place to see the flamingos is around the salt lakes, the largest salt lake in Chile is only a short drive from the main town of San Pedro. Large numbers of long legged pink beauties wonder the salt pools looking for a tasty morsel.

A day trip from San Pedro to the Geyser El Tatio springs is also essential visiting. With an early start the trip begins with the sun rising dramatically against the vast landscape which consists of giant spurts of water thrown up and evaporating into the air, not dissimilar to spurts from a whales blow hole although on a rather grander scale. The dramatic backdrop makes for a superb photo-shoot and a truly unique experience.  If you are lucky enough to have remembered your swimmers there are a few springs which you are able to take a soak in, warming you up from the contrasting cool air.

The drive back to the hotel brings on a whole new perspective with the sun setting from a different angle, whatever you do, do not fall asleep, its too magical to miss a second.

Unconventional Conventions are going to the Atacama Desert as part of their Pre Tour for the South American Adventure in February 2016. CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

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Dr Gary Kilov (1:42)
Dr Asha Nair (1:31)
Dr Ralph Audehm (1:11)
Dr Diana Hart & Dr Roger Scurr (1:39)