Atacama Desert—A Dried Yet Charming Desert

Atacama Desert

The Atacama desert is the most driest desert in the world. Due to this reason, it has less population and receives less rainfall. In the North of Chile, it spread 1000 Km along the narrow coast. It ranges from the Pacific Ocean to the Andes Mountains in the East. However, the southern part of this desert is less dry. The soil cannot grow crops and plants here, but the northern parts can.

The slight vegetation here must receive an annual rainfall of at least 1 mm. Otherwise, it’ll not proceed. Some slopes of the Atacama desert remain moist due to cold nights in winter that provide enough suitable environment for vegetation to grow. Moreover, Mesic valleys crossing the Xeric desert have a chance of greenery here.

In these valleys, there are a lot of shrubs, trees, and other herbs. More than 550 species of Ferns, Gymnosperms, and several other Flowering plants grow here. The Hill area of the Atacama desert receives fog due to the clouds coming from the Pacific Ocean. The fun fact about this desert is that it has been tested several times for Lunar and Mars landers so far! Because it has an analogous environment to Mars—little water & dry atmosphere.

Where Is The Atacama Desert Exactly Located?

In Northern Chile, Argentina, there lies a cool and arid desert. It covers about 40,541 sq. m of Chile. The Atacama Desert map ranges 600-700 miles from North to South. In the south, It is located between the bend of the Loa River and the mountains distinguishing the Salado-Copiapo drainage basins. Talking the North, it extends towards the Peru border. However, its extension is limitless, making it a vast desert in Chile.

In the west of the desert, there lies the Cordillera de la Costa—a low coastal mountain. In the East, there is Cordillera Domeyko—the hills of the Andes mountains. A large salt cavity is located at the lower end of coastal mountains west of the Atacama desert. While in the East, there are alluvial fans.

The Reason The Atacama Desert Is So Dry

Different reasons are making this desert the driest one. The reasons are as follows:

The Reason The Atacama Desert Is So Dry

  • According to the winds blowing there, the Atacama desert lies on the wrong side of the Andes,
  • The southeast winds contain moisture; these winds rise high, and the humidity condenses. It then falls over the opposite side of the Andes, the Atacama. This phenomenon is known as a Rainshadow,
  • Secondly, there exists high air pressure,
  • This higher pressure of air causes the air to get warm, which leads to the conversion of moisture in it into water vapors,
  • Hence, the moisture doesn’t convert into liquid, which makes it quite dry,
  • Thirdly, a cold Humbolt current comes from the Pacific Ocean,
  • So the winds on this ocean are cold and can’t take moisture from the ocean,

Long story short, these factors collectively contribute to making the Atacama desert the driest one.

Interesting Facts About The Atacama Desert

Interesting Facts About The Atacama Desert

What makes this desert worthy and charming, irrespective of its dryness? There are some interesting facts about this land. These are as follows:

Analogue of Mars

It’s quite surprising that the soil collected from Mars’ land as a sample is very similar to the Earth of Atacama desert in its qualities. The ground is enriched in orange color, and mountains are everywhere, giving the same look as Mars, the photographs taken from spacecraft. So, it becomes easy for NASA to first experiment on the land of this desert before launching any vehicle or rover over Mars for any purpose.

That’s why it is also known as an analog of Mars—but on Earth! If you are a space lover and want to explore, this desert might be your next destination to experience the same vibe.

Mummified Birds

A survey from 2021 reveals that there are 27 mummified parrots in the soil of this desert. There are skeletons of Amazon parrots and macaws without feathers, extinct several years ago. Researchers consider that these parrots must be caged and taken to the desert from the Amazon rainforest. They also believe that these parrots were used as a symbol of dignity and wealth. Moreover, the people of this era must have used the feathers of these parrots as the symbol of leadership.

The Desert Hand

There is a statue in the East of the city of Antofagasta. It is a huge statue of a hand that looks like it is touching heaven in the sky. In the past, Chileans faced severe human violations; hence, to symbolize it, the famous sculptor Mario Irarrazabal designed and constructed it. Watching a piece of art in the land of dry atmosphere and dry life is worth watching. It is visible on the Pan-American highway, route number 5.

Road Tours

The desert is the route to several other countries and cities. So, the road trips provide worthwhile scenery and other sights, such as Altiplanic Lagoons, the Valley of the Moon, and Reserva National Los Flamencos.

Human Attraction

How this barren land can be captivating to someone’s eyes? The answer lies in its capability to produce soil that can be used for farming. Hence, after so many years, the farmers and researchers successfully repaired this desert for the sake of mining and farming. So, for this purpose, people come and visit here to experience trading, mining, and farming. Moreover, many sandy sports like sand boarding, foot racing, rallying, and hiking are the main events that people love to attend here.

Cold Desert

Atacama Desert Cold Desert

All deserts don’t necessarily portray a hot temperature. The Atacama desert is unique in this way that its temperature ranges from 0 to 30 degrees Celsius. Due to cold ocean breezes, its nights are cooler.

Pacific War

The desert is in Chile and is also enriched in minerals. The Pacific War was between Chile, Peru, and Bolivia, and there was a conflict between these cities to enrich minerals. The war goes in the favor of Chile, so in this way, it is indirectly the major source of wealth for Chile.

Home to Astrologers

As there is no life in the desert and no rainfall here, it means there is no pollution at all. The fun fact is that the Milky Way Galaxy is quite clear from here. Astrologers and other human beings can also experience this beautiful sight once a week with the aid of a Telescope. Science and technology institutions find this spot as their home because it tells different stories about several stars.

Alien of Atacama

In 2003, people found a small skeleton of a human. It was very strange to them due to its ribs, head, and denser teeth. So, they started to think of it as an alien of Atacama. But, this is a recent mummy. Due to denser teeth, no medical reports are here to declare it something human or alien yet. However, some consider it a mummy of an aborted child as it is so tiny.