Parched plateaus of the Atacama Desert—Via BBC

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Some parts of northern Chile have never seen a drop of rain, yet flamingos, cacti and more than one million people have learned to survive in these arid badlands. Read more. (Joel Sartore/National Geographic Stock)

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At its centre, the Atacama Desert is known as the driest place on Earth, with sterile intimidating stretches where rain has never been recorded. Yet the 1,000km stretch of land between the Pacific Ocean and the Andes Mountains is surprisingly home to more than a million people. They crowd into coastal cities, mining compounds, fishing villages and oasis towns. While these dry conditions do not make living easy, the region’s unique wildlife, rugged mountains and views of white-capped volcanoes attract thousands of travellers each year. (Joel Sartore/National Geographic Stock)

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Not only is the Atacama Desert exceptionally dry, it is considered to be relatively cold, with average temperatures ranging from 0°C to 25°C. Regardless, a plethora of species have learned to thrive among the sandy stretches of land, surviving off the limited vegetation. Here, a baby viscacha – a relative of the chinchilla – stretches in front of its resting mother. (Joel Sartore/National Geographic Stock)
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Rain rarely falls on the Atacama’s coastline, but dense fog known as camanchaca is abundant. When cool, ocean air is trapped against the hillsides and the air condenses into low-lying clouds that float along the coast as fog. The camanchaca is not wet enough to produce rainfall but does provide for an opportunistic ecosystem high above the shore –moss-covered cactuses, a variety of shrubs, some rodents and a few foxes all thrive off the mist. (Joel Sartore/National Geographic Stock)
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The Atacama’s altiplano, or high plains, vary in elevation from 3,000m to 4,800m and is where most of the region’s wildlife can be found. The salt flats – landlocked bodies of water with high concentrations of salt – are home to flocks of birdlife including three species of flamingos. Explore Lauca National Park to catch a glimpse of vicuñas (relatives of the llama), rheas (flightless birds), Andean fox and mountain lions. (Joel Sartore/National Geographic Stock)
 

 

6 comments on “Parched plateaus of the Atacama Desert—Via BBC”

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