Ten mind-blowing Atacama Desert photos. Chile’s Atacama boasts ethereal landscapes, vast sceneries and the chance to get
PS Looking for more Chile travel inspiration? Check out these handy guides.
- Road tripping: unmissable things to do in the Atacama Desert
- The coolest spots in Chile
- Hiking the Torres del Paine
- Five step-by-step South America travel routes
- The ultimate South America bucket list
Atacama Desert Photo Spot 1: Laguna Tebinquinche
Set in the midst of the Salar de Atacama, a ring of volcanos
The perfectly reflective surface means it should be top of your list when it comes to taking in the top views on a visit to the Atacama Desert.
The vast lake reflects the colours, hues and shapes of the surrounding skies and volcanoes. Check it out at sunset for extra wow factor.
Atacama Desert Pictures: 2. Sunrise over Lascar Volcano
The sun peeks over a row of volcanos, rising at the centre of Lascar Volcano. Sunrise in the Atacama Desert is always a spectacular sight, but the perfect silhouette of the volcanos and the bright sunlight really made this one for me.
Get to your viewing point early – in February, sunrise starts around 6.30am.
Watching the crazy colours and changing hues makes it worth every lost minute of sleep though. Really, trust me on this.
Travelling to Chile? Here’s why you should go Hiking in the Torres del Paine too!
Atacama Desert Images – 3. A Lone Flamingo at Laguna Chaxa
Flamingos abound at many of the Atacama Desert’s lakes, none more so than in Laguna Chaxa.
The pastel colours of Laguna Chaxa provides the perfect backdrop to the flamingos that flock to the lake during the Southern Hemisphere’s summer.
Laguna Chaxa is home to three kinds of flamingos: the James Flamingo, the Andean Flamingo and the Chilean Flamingo. They’re drawn to the microorganisms and algae that live in the lake and on which they feed.
Abundant as the flamingos were, this lonely little fella totally captured my heart. Plus, look at the colours of that lake. Love.
Atacama Desert Photos – Salar de Talar and Aguas Calientes
Speaking of crazy colours, the Salar de Talar may have just won the prize for the most incredible landscape so far.
The waters range from pastel pink and light stone through to bright teal.
The salt flats might not have the crazy crusts of its Bolivian cousin, the Salar de Uyuni, but I think it wins in the out-and-out breathtaking landscape competition.
If you’re feeling active, you can hike along the Piedras Rojas: it’s a beautiful hike but the altitude means that you’ll be walking slower than you ever thought possible and still get out of breath when you have to climb a big rock (or maybe that’s just me).
Incredible Atacama Desert Photos – 5. Valle de La Luna (The Valley of the Moon)
No need to ask why this valley is called the valley of the moon: the eerie rock formations and salt crusts make you think you are walking through some kind of lunar landscape.
Thousands and thousands of years of strong winds carved a landscape that is unlike any other you’ll have ever seen before.
The “dunes” and “mountains” within the valley are built up of thin layers of sand, clay and salt – and each layer is individually identifiable when you get up close.
The Valle de la Luna is one of the Atacama’s popular destinations – at sunset, the tour buses empty out and it’s swarming with people trying to get the perfect snap.
Go at sunrise instead, and if you’re lucky, you’ll get the whole place to yourself like we did. A giant lunar playground for photographs and wows galore.
Mind-Blowing Pictures of the Atacama Desert – 6. Salar de Quisqiuro
You know that feeling when a landscape is so large and so vast that it makes you feel like an insignificant ant?
The Salar de Quisquiro is the last in a number of incredible landscapes on Route 27 from San Pedro de Atacama over to the Argentinean border.
If you’re heading over to Argentina, make sure you stop off in Salta, which isn’t far on the other side of the border.
Otherwise, wend your way back down the 27 for more amazing views – make sure you grab a pic of Licancabur and take a peek at Bolivia’s Laguna Verde along the way.
Awesome Landscapes in the Atacama Desert – 7. Salar de Tara
Salar de Tara is located pretty close to Quisquiro on Route 27 and another one of my absolute favourite spots for taking Atacama Desert photos.
Tara is located in the basin of the Vilama Volcano and is another flamingo hotspot in the area.
The waters are rich in algae and microorganisms, which not only draws the
Keep your eyes open for the Salar’s abundant wildlife – including vicuñas, desert foxes and Andean geese.
South America is full of awesome spots. Not sure where to start? I’ve written five step-by-step South America travel routes to help you plan your trip.
Cool Photography Locations in the Atacama Desert – 8. Dawn over El Tatio Geysers
It’s an early start but dawn over the El Tatio Geysers is a must-see for anyone visiting the Atacama Desert.
We were on the road at
It’s so worth the effort though, watching the sun rise over the geyser field and the random (and sometimes quite violent) eruptions of the 80 active geysers
If you’re a bit of a wimp like I am, wrap up warm because it is COLD.
At one point I was pressing the shutter release with my chin because my fingers had totally stopped working. The solution? Incredibly unladylike but very effective – shove your hands into your trousers until feeling returns. I can recommend.
Cool Atacama Desert Photos – 9. Sunset over Guatin Canyon
Guatin is a tiny little hamlet on the road from San Pedro de Atacama to the El Tatio Geysers.
It’s the starting point for a trek into the Cactus Canyon (more on that anon) and makes for a stunning backdrop to sunset.
We slept in Guatin for the night before heading up to El Tatio and the stars put on a pretty amazing show that night but the beautiful glow of the sunset over the canyon was unlike anything else we saw on our trip.
PS, that’s Uranus twinkling in the sky (cue childish giggle).
Pictures of the Atacama Desert – 10. Cactus Canyon, Guatin
The cacti in the Guatin Canyon tower over their surroundings – they grow several metres tall, with thick, chunky trunks and spears covered in huge prickles (don’t get too close).
You hike in through the riverbed and the surrounding valley sides are covered in towering cacti.
Don’t forget to look back for an amazing view of the canyon framed by the Atacama’s ever-present volcanos.
If you’re in the area why not hop over to Bolivia to explore more incredible landscapes?
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