Chile: Why Visit the Atacama Desert?

Biking in Atacama, Chile
Biking in Atacama, Chile
The cracked desert floor in Chile's Atacama desert.
The cracked desert floor in Chile’s Atacama desert.

Why Visit the Desert?  Chile’s Atacama is One Great Reason

By Monica Mastrantonio

I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name. It felt good to be out of the rain…”. So you have already probably heard and sang this song, but have you ever thought about going to the desert?

We all know there are many cool places to visit around the globe surrounded by comfort and safety reasons, but sometimes they are not as adventurous as traveling to the desert. Usually, people keep a must-do list of their favorite spots and these may vary from fancy beaches to historical monuments, cool heritage and so on.

But none of them are comparable to being in the desert.
Why would anyone ever wish to go to the desert?”, my friends and kids keep asking me, “there is nothing to do or to see there…”. Precisely, and that is where our top answers lie, the desert is about finding secrets and answers.

It is all about silence and vastness and these are good reasons to adventuring at least once in your lifetime and finding your own reasons.

Here are 5 Reasons Why You Should Visit the Desert

A strange pyramid in Chile's Atacama desert.
A strange pyramid in Chile’s Atacama desert.

1 – Desert is where we are able to find ourselves. Actually, if we can´t find our true selves there, where else should we look for? Surely not in the middle of crowd and traffic.

Historically, people go to the desert to meditate, pray, find wisdom and see nature. It´s a must place to be, not to visit and that is the main difference. You are in the desert. So there, in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by that striking silence, the hot air might blow some answers to your questions.

The desert takes our dreams away from us, and they don’t always return… Those who don’t return become a part of the clouds, a part of the animals that hide in the ravines and of the water that comes from the earth. They become part of everything … They become the Soul of the World”, Paulo Coelho.

2 – Desert is where we can find peace in solitude. The place of no traffic disintegrates distance and space as well as the way we perceive things. We always relate things to one another.

There is always a connection, but in the desert, there is only disruption and emptiness. This rearranges everything and may bring a new order to your life and style. I started taking things as they are, and was able to shoot amazing pictures out from nothing, which were both a miracle and a blessing.

The Atacama desert is shown here in northern Chile.
The Atacama desert is shown here in northern Chile.

What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well”, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.

3 – Desert is also where we can find the clear sky, constellations and shooting stars at night due to the lack of electricity and night light nearby. It holds an amazing sky view. We can easily find directions just by looking up. There is nothing like staring at a clear night sky and thinking how immense this whole universe is.

And we learn to find the north star and together with its appreciation and gratitude for all the beauty above us. Finding constellations and stars may even sound like a kiddy thing to do, but it is a joyfully way to find our place in this immense universe. There is so much wisdom when we realize our nothingness compared to its infinitude.

Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes.
Chajnantor Plateau in the Chilean Andes.

The desert is no longer a landscape, it is a pure form produced by the abstraction of all others”, Jean Baudrillard.

4 – Desert is the place where we can spot shooting stars and make a wish.

Therefore, it is a must place to be for those who have many wishes to be accomplished. It is a pity that many people take that for granted nowadays and have somehow lost their inner ability to enjoy themselves with the basics.

That is what the desert is all about. Wishes may eventually come true, but they also provide guidance for us to keep moving forward. Shooting stars are just a mean to really knowing what wishes we carry for life.

The desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose”, Isaiah (35:1).

5 – Desert is where we go when we need to stand still, when we need peace and slowing down. It is the place where our true voice comes out, where emptiness unclogs everything.

We live in such a fully packed world that being out there with nothing around can elicit peace and wisdom to face our daily challenges.

They cannot scare me with their empty spaces, between stars – on stars where no human race is, I have it in me so much nearer home, to scare myself with my own desert places”, Robert Frost.

This may seem a little weird and a little odd, but once we figure ourselves in the desert, the rest is moonshine.

A mountain in the desert.
A mountain in the desert.

Monica has been to the Atacama Desert and is planning her next trip to the desert for 2017. She really thinks everyone needs to dare this adventure at least once.

Must see places in Atacama are: Moon Valley, San Pedro de Atacama, Salty Mountains, Alma telescope.

What to pack: sunglasses, hats and caps, sunscreen, cameras, binoculars, a coat, boots.

Monica Mastrantonio



Monica Mastrantonio has a Ph.D. in Social Psychology and is a writer, lecturer, speaker, zen-mom of three Bambini, a lover of life and of her tattoos. She lives in Italy.

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