Top Ten Deserts

Atacama Desert

The Desierto de Atacama is the driest desert in the world and completely devoid of plant life. Located in northern Chile, the Atacama is mostly salt pans (dry lakes) at the foot of the coastal mountains. There are some sandy dunes, but rocky reaches are more common. The Atacama Desert is part of the dry western shoreline of South America, although much more dramatic. A combination of cold currents and unique geography make rainfall highly uncommon. The city of Calama, for example, has never received rain since records have been kept. Atacama is a cool desert, with average summer temperatures in some towns rarely getting above 70 degrees F. Despite the paucity of rainfall, there is some farming including lemons (at Pica), potato and alfalfa (at Calama, watered by the Loa River), and a variety of products along the salty shores of the marshes at San Pedro de Atacama.


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