The Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on earth and provides some of Chile's most dramatic landscapes. Although rain is a rarity, every few years there is sufficient rainfall to produce the desierto florido - flowering desert - when colourful flowers bloom and life returns, briefly, to the Atacama.
San Pedro de Atacama is the main tourist town in the Atacama Desert. It was the centre of the Atacameno culture and the Archaeological Museum is a good place to learn about this fascinating pre-Inca society. The town is also known as a centre for adventure travel, with opportunities for mountain biking and off-road tours into Bolivia to see the Salar de Uyuni and the beautiful mountain lakes, Laguna Colorada and Laguna Verde. Closer to the town is the Valley of the Moon, an ethereal place that's especially atmospheric at sunset.
The geysers of El Tatio are another popular Atacama Desert attraction, with around 80 separate geysers bubbling up from deep underground. The clear desert skies in the Atacama are also perfect for star gazing, and an astronomical tour at the space observatory near San Pedro de Atacama is out of this world.