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Three million years ago this desert originated thanks to the Foehn effect that occurs on the slopes of the Andes Mountains, which has dried out the low lying land at the bottom of the valley. Located north of the Atacama region between the great mountain range and the Pacific, it extends parallel to this one thousand kilometers. It is the most arid desert on the planet and was populated twelve thousand years ago by the ethnic group of the Atacameños. Its temperatures are extreme, more than 30 degrees Celsius per day and below zero at night.
It is considered the best place on earth for astronomical studies due to its clear skies full of stars, so the Astronomical Observatory of Alma has installed more than twelve observation towers.
Its epicenter is the town of San Pedro de Atacama, from where all tours depart and it has a unique and inhospitable landscape that is filled with volcanoes, salt flats and hot springs making it one of the most unique and beautiful places in the world.
It is home to exciting sights such as The Valley of the Moon and the Valley of Death, with its unlikely natural sculptures formed by the erosion of the wind, the Salar de Atacama with the two pools of fresh water called the Ojos del Salar and the Cejar Lagoon, considered the Chilean Dead Sea for its concentration of salt, the Termas de Puritama located at the bottom of a ravine along a river that runs at a temperature of 33 degrees centigrade, the Village of Quitor, a defensive fortress of the 12th century and the famous Tatio Geysers, located in the Cordillera de los Andes, in a geothermal basin at 4320 meters above sea level. Through the fissures of the Earth's crust, powerful fumaroles of 10 meters high and 85 degrees Celsius emerge from the earth, a result of the collision between underground rivers of frozen water and hot rocks. They cease their activity at dawn. This geothermal field is the largest in the Southern Hemisphere and without a doubt one of the most fascinating spectacles offered by the desert. Nearby there are thermal pools where it is possible to take a bath to benefit from its mineral properties which have a view of the stunning snow-capped volcanoes.
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