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Journeys Through the World’s Driest Desert

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A travel narrative recounting an extended journey in the Atacama Desert
and High Altiplano of South America. The Atacama is the driest non-polar
desert on earth, comprising 181,000 square kilometres of ancient lava
flows, sand and blinding salt pans spanning northern Chile, northwestern
Argentina, Peru almost as north as Lima and southwest Bolivia. It is a
place so very hot and so dreadfully dry that if you were to spy a half
dozen blades of grass it would be a prairie. The Chilean statesman,
Vicuña McKenna, once described the Atacama as the ‘Silent land of

This very readable account will ‘transport’ the reader though a
landscape often compared to that of Mars: rocks the colour of raw meat, landscapes the colour of a Dead Sea
Scroll, volcanoes, bubbling mud-springs, fumaroles, geysers, lagoons
in electrifying colours and the Desierto de Dali — a landscape so
out-of-this world it might have been shipped in specially from elsewhere
in the Solar System. There are enigmatic desert petroglyphs, major
porphyry copper and gold deposits and the world’s oldest mummies, the
latter wondrously preserved by the desiccating desert environment.

The great danger for any visitor to this amazing region is sensory
overload resulting from the psychedelic landscapes. Disappointment is
certainly not an option. So then, slip into the shorts and ‘T’ shirt,
apply some sun bloc, and come join me now on my journey through the
thirsty pages of this griddle plate landscape.

Journeys Through the World’s Driest Desert


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