Climber in particular will love the region, as there are a ton of peaks that ring the desert, most of which are in excess of 5000 meters (16,404 ft). The area is encircled by volcanoes, some of which are still active, and there are multiple routes to challenge beginners and experienced mountaineers alike. Considering the desert floor is situated at about 2438 meters (8000 ft), if you like altitude, the Atacama will give you plenty of that.
It wasn't just about the stunning snow capped mountains though. While there, I explored twisting, narrow canyons, carved out of the desert by eons of winds and water. I visited an active geyser basin and watched the sun come up, illuminating the valley in unbelievable ways, and then had my breath taken away again by the sun setting over the salt flats that cover a large part of the area. The light does amazing things in both of those places, especially when combined with the rich desert colors that have been enhanced by the volcanic activity that has shaped the Atacama over the centuries.
In short, the Atacama is an adventure travelers dream and a place that I highly recommend visiting. It is one of Chile's best kept secrets, but offers striking beauty that is certainly on par with what you'll find in Patagonia as well.
More to come on this topic in the days ahead, but the photo below gives you an idea of what the place is like. It is of the sunset over the salt flats. You can check out more of my photos in my Picasa gallery found here. I'll be adding more photos to the gallery throughout the day, so hopefully you'll get a nice glimpse of what I found on my travels there. Hope you enjoy!
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