Because Chile’s southern region is such a popular adventure travel destination, the fantastic landscapes of the north are often overlooked. For instance, the Salar de Atacama, an expansive salt flat located in the heart of the driest place on Earth, the Atacama Desert.
Surrounded on all sides by snow-capped mountains, the terrain in the Salar is encrusted with a thick layer of salt and covered in shallow pools of water, which serve as nesting grounds for flocks of Chilean and Andean Flamingoes. Travelers should visit the Salar at sunset, when the light of the setting sun paints the landscape in shades of red, orange, and pink that they didn’t even know existed in nature.
The nearby town of San Pedo de Atacama, a sort of base camp for travel in this part of Chile, has accommodations ranging from basic hostels to luxury resorts. Anyone with money to burn should head to Tierra Atacama, a beautifully austere luxury hotel with rooms from a little less than $1000.
Getting There:San Pedro sits on Chile’s major bus routes, but getting there from Santiago can take as long as 12 hours. Flights on small planes are available from Chilean carriers, but travelers will have to ask a travel agent in the capital to find a reasonable price.