Deserts are arid regions, generally receiving less than ten inches of precipitation a year, or regions where the potential evaporation rate is twice as great as the precipitation.
The world’s deserts are divided into four categories. Subtropical deserts which are the hottest, with parched terrain and rapid evaporation. Although cool coastal deserts are located within the same latitudes as subtropical deserts, the average temperature is much cooler because of frigid offshore ocean currents. Cold winter deserts are marked by stark temperature differences from season to season, ranging from 100° F (38° C) in the summer to 10° F (–12° C) in the winter. Polar Regions are also considered to be deserts because nearly all moisture in these areas is locked up in the form of ice.
ATACAMA DESERT: North of Chile
The Atacama Desert, in the north of Chile, is the driest place on earth. It stretches from the highlands of the Andean Altiplano over the golden sands of the Atacama Desert as far as the shores of the Pacific Ocean. This is the place for those in search of adventure with its breathtaking salt flats, geysers and Andean volcanos,
The desert is so dramatic that, at first sight, it appears never to have sustained any life. However, pink flamingoes together with Alpacas, Llamas, Vicunas and many other species of fauna and flora can be found living in perfect harmony in the many oases and lakes located in the area.
Travelling north, view the Atacama Salar, with its 300.000 hectares of territory, the oasis-town of San Pedro de Atacama, which is the tourist capital of the Chilean north, due to its natural wonders. The Moon Valley, with its geological rocks formations, the geysers of Tatio, altiplanic valleys and lakes (at 4.000 meters of altitude), canyons and the historic towns like Toconao that has all the houses constructed out of the local linarite stone. On the way is the breathtaking Atacama Salt Lake, which is over 1,000 kilometers long.
Besides, there is an argueological museum that was built by a Belgian priest, who gathered numerous arqueological vestiges, such as pottery and mummies, which are witnesses of the history in this region.These are museums which record man’s presence over the last 10,000 years besides this there is sea and long sandy beaches, relaxation and entertainment in casinos, restaurants and hotels, and above all the friendly hospitality of the Chilean people.
It gets cold once the sun goes down and during the day it can be extremely very hot.
The climate is magnificent throughout the year. During winter (June, July and August) the average daytime temperature varies between 9ºC (48ºF) and 24ºC (75ºF); days are very pleasant, inviting you to lay in the sun’s corridors. In summer (January, February and March) the average daytime temperature fluctuates between 13ºC (55ºF) and 25ºC (77ºF), reaching maximums of 32ºC (90ºF): a warmer climate inviting you to a good “siesta” before the evening explorations begin. Between January and March, the so called Altiplanic Winter comes with occasional showers.