Trekking The Atacama Desert


The Times Online has a really interesting story today on Trekking the Atacama Desert in South America, the driest place on Earth.

Author Nicholas Roe sets off to explore this remote and desolate region of the Andes. Starting in Chile, he would trek overland to Argentina, as part of a tourist group. The adventure travelers spent the day trekking the desert, while support vehicles ushered their gear ahead to a camp site each night, not unlike a classic trek on the Haute Route in Europe, although this one seems to be more riding than hiking at times.

Roe talks about the incredible landscape that is the Atacama, where the extreme conditions have created something that, at times, looks like a lunar landscape. The place is so arid that much of it’s 4,400 square mile area has never seen rainfall in recorded history. As a result of the dry conditions, and the alternating hot-cold, day/night cycle, there are vast salt flats in the desert that have become one of it’s signature scenes.

The trip highlighted in this story is an interesting mix of physical challenges and pampered luxury. The travelers spend long hours exploring the high altitude Atacma, which is found at roughly 12,000 feet in the Andes Mountains, but they retire for the day into a large, comfortable tent, where they are served fine foods and local wines to help wash away the cares of the day. Personally, i’d probably prefer a little less luxury, and a little more time in the Atacama, but not everyone feels that way I’m sure.

The trek was organized by Cazenove and Loyd, a U.K. travel group, but others offer the trek as well. They can be a bit on the pricey side, but it’s not everyday you get to visit such a unique landscape.

4 thoughts on “Trekking The Atacama Desert”

  1. The Atacama is astounding! I did some mountain biking down there on a trip through Chile. The group I was with is called Sacred Rides Adventures, and Mike, the owner, runs some amazing MTB tours.

    Check out the photos from Chile and especially his video of the “Quest for the El Dorado of Singletrack”: at http://www.sacredrides.com

    We found it…. but it’s Mike’s carefully guarded secret!

  2. Wow! Thanks for the Link David. I hadn’t heard of Sacred Rides before, but it definitely looks like they have some trips that would be right up my alley. Great stuff.

    The Atacama is on my list of must see places. Sounds like an amazing place. I’ll bet it was great to mountain bike the region as well.

  3. Atacama is an amazing place. It is deceptively beautiful, but very dangerous. The Alti-Plano is also spectacular.

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