The Atacama Desert is the most arid in the world. It seems that there had been no rain for some 400 hundred years. A particular feature of this desert is the fact that it is made of large mineral areas and not of sand dunes. Several factors contributed to the aridity of this region. Firstly, due to its geographical location, the area is under the direct influence of the high sub-tropical pressures. The action of the very cold sea stream of Humboldt, impedes the air mass to raise and turn into rain. The barrier forming the Domeyko chain stops the water coming from the Andes , which enhances the draught in the region.
There is a strange beauty about the Desert: the atmosphere is incredibly transparent, which distorts distances, the border between day and night and gives one the feeling that stars are very near.
The Atacama Desert begins at the North of Copiapo and extends to the South of Peru. In Antofagaste , Chile reaches the largest width: 355 km. Despite the hostility of the environment, this area was temporarily populated, as several very interesting remains testify of the old civilizations.
Among these, there are the several drawings, impressive in size, made on the superficial layer of the land. The most famous are those of Peru , at Nazca, but the ones in Chile , at Iquique and Arica belong to the same patrimony. Furthermore, the museum in San Pedro de Atacama hosts genuine treasures of the old vanished civilizations.
San Pedro de Atacama is the starting point of two other exceptional destinations: Argentina and Bolivia .