Top Ten Chile Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

Walk the Cool Desert

More arid than Death Valley, more barren than the Sahara, the huge Chilean desert is still cool because of the high altitude and cool Pacific air. In other words, it's the perfect place to go for a drive. And when you get there, you'll find scattered settlements and impressive geoglyphs. These enormous pre-Columbian figures and abstract designs on the canyon walls and hills of the Atacama were created by scraping the surface soil to reveal the lighter bedrock beneath. The markings come from ancient travelers leading llama trains from what is now Bolivia and Peru to the Pacific coast of present-day Chile. You can find more geoglyphs in the hillsides of the Lluta, Azapa, and other river valleys, as well as the high plain of the Pampa de Tamarugal, east of the city of Iquique. Easily accessible all year, the coastal desert enjoys consistent springlike temperatures.

Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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