This normally hostile natural world is wrapped in a veil of poetry of unreal beauty, dotted with the urbanised landmarks of Copiapó, Antofagasta, Iquique, and Arica. It is no coincidence that San Pedro de Atacama stands out as the first destination in northern Chile.
There are sumptuous lodges offering explorations of the region in conditions of optimal comfort in this luxuriant oasis. In recent years, restaurants, bars, and trekking agencies have popped up in the villages, which still have all their appeal.
A thousand and one wonders of nature mark your route to the west. The mysterious Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) and its shifting dunes carved by the wind, the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt desert in the world, colonised by pink flamingos, and also the incredible Pica, celebrated for its lemon groves and mango trees, are all sublime.