The Atacama Desert is a virtually rainless plateau in South America, covering a 600-mile (1,000 km) strip of land on the Pacific coast of South America, west of the Andes mountains.
The Atacama desert is, according to NASA, National Geographic and many other publications, the driest desert in the world (Pic 1). The Atacama Desert occupies 40,600 square miles (105,000 km2) in northern Chile, composed mostly of salt basins (salares), sand, and felsic lava flows towards the Andes, but due to the generosity to Saint Isidro's and after a long rest, the Atacama desert woke up to life this year, covered with colorful and gracefully shaped blossoms. We are talking about the Blooming Desert, a marvel that occurs only every 4 or 5 years, from September to November.
The blooming of the desert is a miracle of nature and the most impressive and beautiful phenomenon to take place in Chile. Hundreds of kilometers of desert, usually only sand and rocks, are transformed in a great carpet of color and life thanks to the kindness of water. The flowering period varies according to the characteristics of the rainfalls, but usually starts at the end of August and may last till November or even December, if these are late.
This year, the region around Huasco, 45 kilometers west of the road (which road?) and following the river of the same name, is one of the best spots to appreciate and enjoy this gift of nature. It may also be seen from the same road 5 North between Vallenar and Copiapó, and the Aguada de Tongoy, a narrow valley situated 35 kilometers south of this seaside town. There the hills are covered with little blue flowers (azulillos), round and intense raspberry colored "guanaco feet", "añañucas" and velvets with delicate yellow petals.
Since many of the species that bloom at the Blooming Desert phenomenon do not grow anywhere else on the planet, its preservation is fundamental. There are established treks to walk, and cutting flowers is prohibited, as they do not grow in pots nor gardens. The Regional Government Exent Resolution officially protects it to insure that future generations may enjoy this beautiful Atacama spectacle.