Planning to travel to Argentina? When you think Argentinian landscapes, maybe the first thing that pops into your head is Patagonia. When you think Chile, maybe the first thing you think of are the beaches along the mighty blue waters of the Pacific. And when you think Bolivia, maybe you think of the lush Amazon rainforest.
However, vast desert terrain spreads from the Northwest of Argentina, the Northeast of Chile, and the throughout the South of Bolivia. These three countries share some of the driest land on Earth, but each have their own distinctly unique features. So bring your chapstick and lotion, step off the grid, and get your desert on!
Argentina—Salta & Jujuy Region
One place you can’t miss when you travel to Argentina is the town of Purmamarca. Besides being a charming desert town with many colorful local textiles and hand-crafted gifts, the Hill of Seven Colors is an amazing piece of natural art situated right outside the town. Also in this region, Argentina has its very own salt flats.
Salinas Grandes, located in the midst of the colorful desert peaks is a vast deposit of salt. Unique to the much bigger Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, Salinas Grandes has small pools dug out that are filled with water year-round. Although hard to grow crops and raise animals in the rocky hills of the Salta and Jujuy region, the area is chalk full of domestic llamas!
Crossing over into Argentina’s best frenemie, Chile is home to the famous Atacama Desert. This desert is known for its impressive Geysers, rock formations, and lagoons. Lago Cejar has almost the same salt concentration as the Dead Sea, so floating in its waters is a once-in-a lifetime experience! Best of all, the Atacama Desert has been named as the best place in the world to stargaze. The only thing out there dotting your views of dusty landscapes are the occasional native vicunas galloping by.
As you travel into Bolivia, there are even more desert treasures awaiting you. The seemingly never-ending miles of stark sandy territory are spotted with brightly colored lakes—vivid red, green and purple waters brightly contrast the white salty earth. The region is very carefully preserved; the only way you can visit is with a Bolivian guide in a private four-wheel drive vehicle.
The only life forms out there will be you and hundreds of flamingos in the salt lakes. The views in this desert wonderland are completely surrealistic; no wonder Salvador Dali got so much inspiration from his travels there! The salt flat itself, Salar de Uyuni, will make you feel like you’re on another planet. An enormous white field of salt stretching for miles, it’s the largest on the planet. Bring your sunglasses!
Written by Chloe Moore