The Empty Land that Filled My Heart

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Day 365: San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

I’m leaving Tierra Atacama and the desert with a heavy heart but well moisturized skin.

Some people love jungles or beaches but I’ve learned that my heart is in the desert.

I don’t think I could ever live here, not unless I had a standing weekly appointment with Maca, but the beauty is unbelievable and like nothing I’ve ever seen.

I wanted to share a few photos that I hadn’t posted of this spectacular land.

san pedro de atacama flamingo sanctuary
san pedro de atacama flamingo sanctuary

Tour group heading out to see the flamingos.

It seems like the salt crusted land stretches for miles, only stopping for the mountains.

san pedro de atacama

I didn’t touch this photo at all in Lightroom but it’s so picturesque it looks like a painting.

Now when someone asks me where the most beautiful landscape is I won’t hesitate to say Northern Chile.

Join the Conversation

  1. Michael Figueiredo says:

    Very pretty photos! The more I read about (and see) Chile, the more I want to go there!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Michael, it is a really pretty country and so far I’ve only been in the North.

  2. So austere yet stunning. I love these.

  3. Grace Lewis says:

    These pictures are stunning. Is it hard to walk on that ground? It’s hard to tell how big those chunks are. I didn’t know flamingos would live in a place like that (or did you mean something besides the birds?)

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Flamingos live on the land as well as some foxes and then its just small marinelife that the flamingos eat.

      1. Matt | ExpertVagabond says:

        Foxes in the desert? Cool!

    2. When you go to check out the flamingos there are actually some paths cut out through that salt crust landscape to make walking easy. I couldn’t imagine trying to go through them without the path.

      1. Ayngelina Author says:

        Absolutely need the paths, otherwise the terrain is far too coarse.

  4. Fantastic pictures. The first one is my favourite. Never really looked that much into Chile so these photos are the first impression I have of it.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I didn’t know a lot about it either, especially that it had landscapes as beautiful as this.

  5. Hey it’s day 365!! Congratulations… 🙂

    Great photos as always!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know I made it!!! 3 big posts coming next week to celebrate the one year of madness.

  6. I appreciate what you mean when you say your heart is in the desert. Namibia calls me back in a similar way.
    Be there in that vastness in 2 weeks. Love your photos Ayngelina!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I can see that in your writing about Namibia, seems like such a special place.

  7. Brooke vs. the World says:

    I love places like this. Empty landscapes that stretch on… seriously one of my favorite things. Thanks for sharing the beautiful photos 😉

  8. Katherina says:

    Thanks for haring these amazing pictures. I’ve been seriously hinking about taking some of my vacation time to go to Chile this year… this is ust so beautiful!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Oh all the places I’ve been I think it makes for a really interesting vacation because the landscape is so different.

  9. Gorgeous pictures, Latin America must be truly overwhelming.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Some days it really feels so natural and familiar and then others I see such amazing sites. Your photos of the desert in the Middle East tempt me to take a side trip there.

  10. Christy @ Ordinary Traveler says:

    Beautiful photos! I’m really excited to see Chile.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s a bit of a sticker shock but so beautiful. You must keep in touch so we can meet up when you’re down here. Just met Rease and she’s so lovely.

  11. These photos of Chile are gorgeous! I was supposed to go to Chile last year, but an earthquake shook it and the trip was cancelled, sadly. I am definitely stoked to know when we can get to visit it, especially with these photos that you’ve shared here. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I met a guy from Concepcion and he told me the city is totally fine to visit, showed me photos and said repair has been swift for the city.

      1. Really? Well, that’s good news! I should tell my folks to plan the visit soon. Thanks for the info! 🙂

  12. Nice photos sista!

  13. Lauren @ The Mad To Live says:

    I think every word that is a simile for “breathtaking” can describe what the vision from your eyes and camera from where you stood. 🙂

  14. I’m with you Ayngelina, I love the desert too. Really nice photos! And congratulations on the one year anniversary!

  15. David @ MalaysiaAsia says:

    Ahh Ayngelina, I just love your shots. What camera is it you are using again for this?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s a Canon 40D but really the beauty is in the landscape.

  16. I spent five weeks in the Atacama on an archaeological fieldschool, and the scenery we were surrounded with has really stuck with me – I most vividly remember the contrast of those deep red hills against the dunes of grey ash on top of them (from a 17th cent. volcanic eruption or so – very useful in dating finds!!). Did you know that the first people to artificially mummify their dead came from the Atacama desert, not Egypt??
    A bit of trivia 😉

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Trivia in a comment? Love it!

      I’ve heard next door in Salta they found 3 children mummified. I’m interested to see them.

  17. These images are absolutely stunning. Thanks for sharing.

  18. Eileen Ludwig says:

    when I first looked at this I thought of the West in USA and Great Sand Dune National Park. The crusted ground would be very different. The inland Sand Dune and the ridges and shapes of the sand. It is on the West Side of the Rockies.


  19. Skott and Shawna says:

    Great post, great pics, and most of all congrats!! Day 365 Ayngelina….that is HUGE!

  20. I think wherever you point your camera in the desert is a beautiful shot. I also think that looking out to an empty land takes you back to a time when things were much more simple and less crowded. I always feel like I am in another world on a desert and that I have all the land to myself. Where are you off to next?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well Coca told me if I wanted to see Salta, Argentina it would be better for me to go there next head down to Buenos Aires and loop up through to Santiago and she is always right so I’m moving onto Argentina.

  21. Wow. Gorgeous photos Ayngelina!

  22. pablo neruda called his beautiful homeland “sacred geography” – will you be visiting Isla Negra? he constructed his home there to resemble a ship you remind me of Matilde his wife who he eulogized in the sweetest of lay’s since shakespeare…. angylina you did a year on the road – back home they voted george st pierre canadian of the year but that honour should go to you honestly – je t’adore beaucoup et vous etes une role model pour tout le monde au Canada – ciao again

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      A fellow traveler gave me Neruda’s love poems, one side Spanish one side English and they were beautiful, he’s definitely on my list for Chile.

  23. Adrian B. says:

    Congratulations for 365 days of traveling, Ayngelina! It’s time for champagne 🙂
    Love your photos, as always!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well I am in wine country….

  24. Karen from Globetrotter Diaries says:

    I just stumbled across your blog and love your story! Bravo for taking on Latin American solo– I think it’s fabulous. Gorgeous photos too…


    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Karen, Latin America continues to amaze me, especially the diversity in South America.

  25. Cathy Sweeney says:

    I’ve always loved deserts, too. Gorgeous photos. You’ve had a wonderful experience there.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      It’s my first one but definitely makes me want to see more around the world.

  26. Have yet to visit a desert, so dont know how my heart will feel with them but damn those pictures are amazing!!!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      My first desert as well, so amazing.

  27. I love the tropics, but I am also finding more and more that the desert holds a unique and profound power. I remember some incredible drives through and flights over the Andes in Peru and Bolivia where I was in awe like never before. More recently, I am becoming obsessed with the deserts of California and Mexico and all of their prickly plants.

    Congrats on reaching 365 days of travel!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      California is starting to intrigue me more and more as people talk about the desert there.

  28. Wow, stunning images. I’m sold on Chile 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Yep you must go less chance you’ll be robbed on the docks 😉

  29. The pictures are amazing!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Mom 🙂

  30. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

    Have you been to Southwest Bolivia yet??? To me that is the most beautiful place in the world and nothing comes close.

    1. Andi of My Beautiful Adventures says:

      PS And your pics are gorgeous!!!

    2. Ayngelina Author says:

      I decided Bolivia would have to wait for the Fall. I really don’t want to rush through the country just to tick it off the list and I have a feeling I’ll want to stay a while.

  31. Lorna - the roamantics says:

    these are just stunning!!! hmmm…maybe this beach/lush landscape love could learn to love the desert. congrats on 365 lady! 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Lorna, who knew I’d come this far!

  32. Some great captures Ayngelina

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Cam, its easy when the subject is so beautiful.

  33. D-Man has a cousin that lives in Chile, and she has told me that the landscape in the North is precious. Add that to how Isabel Allende describes Chile in her books and seeing your photos of Chile in your recent posts make me want to go visit even more…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      The landscape has really blown me away, I had no idea it was such a beautiful place.

  34. Fantastic pictures Ayngelina. You are really seeing so amazing things on your journeys.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Thomas, this place was definitely one of the more special ones.

  35. Don Faust says:

    Very cool – looks a bit like Death Valley, especially the salt-crusted clay pots that stretch across the landscape.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Seeing this terrain definitely makes me want to see more of the US, especially with so many people commenting that it looks familiar.

  36. The Nomadic Pinoy says:

    You captured really stunning photos! The first photo reminds me of the dunes in San Pedro de Atacama where I tried sandboarding.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I passed on sandboarding, how was it?

      1. The Nomadic Pinoy says:

        It was great except that I ended up vomiting – blame it on my motion sickness + the high altitude.

        1. Ayngelina Author says:

          Oh no that is terrible!

  37. wow my jaw drop as I scrolling through these shots. You’re shots are so stunning and the layers of color in the sky is so beautiful! I haven’t visit any desert yet so I still heart beach for now 🙂

  38. John in France says:

    Congratulations on these amazing photos! Good luck with your travels!

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  40. Justin Hamlin says:

    Amazing photos, and to think, not one of food! Who knew!?

    love it.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well I did manage to do a few things other than eat 😉

  41. Funny, I can’t imagine living away from the water. I think I’ll always live by the sea…but you certainly make an amazing case for the desert. 🙂 Fantastic pics.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I know how you feel about the water, I really miss the ocean.

  42. Dry, arid landscape. Fascinating photos to view and I am sure many people didn’t know this existed in Chile.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I had no idea this existed either, Chile is really diverse from top to bottom.

  43. Wow. I’m dying to go to Chile. These photos are unreal.

  44. Wow Ayngelina, these shots are amazing! I agree, the last one looks like a painting. Love it!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      No retouching at all, straight out of the camera, so incredible.

  45. What a way to spend your one year mark, Aynge.

  46. We went there (San Pedro de Atacama) for our honeymoon. Awesome place, thanks for bringing back gorgeous memories. Funny, we’re celebrating our 5th anniversary right now in Taiwan!

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I saw couples there and thought it would be a fantastic honeymoon resort.

  47. Ted Nelson says:

    I prefer mountains and jungles, but I know what you mean about the beauty of the desert. It kind of sneaks up and grabs a hold of you.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      yes it just creeps up on you and then when you leave you miss it incredibly

  48. DTravelsRound says:

    These photos are absolutley breathtaking! 🙂 xx

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks D

  49. Beautiful photos. I’m a big fan of blue skies and heat. I could stand a bit of time in the Chilean desert. 🙂

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I miss it already!

  50. phil@howtogrowveg says:

    Those photos are just stunning…

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks Phil, it was a really beautiful place.

  51. Global Basecamps Allie says:

    these pictures are breath taking !!!

  52. I visited San Pedro de Atacama 2 years ago and it certainly was the highlight of my trip to Chile (Patagonia was a close second). It was a phenomenal experience – especially that trek through the sand dunes and canyons of the Death Valley and the Valley of the Moon. And the sunset was spectacular.
    Thanks for bringing back such great memories. Your photos are absolutely stunning!


    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I haven’t been to Patagonia yet, it’s the wrong time of year but hope to get there when I return in the Fall.

  53. Gorgeous photos, Ayngelina! Hope I will reach there one day… Could you go there independently? Or you have to join a tour? Is it expensive?

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Well you can certainly go to San Pedro de Atacama on your own and some people rode bikes out to the desert but it is so hot out there I am sure so many people get stuck out there. I think a tour is much wiser and they are pretty affordable.

  54. Islandvacations says:

    Really awe-inspiring photos. Make me dream of visiting Chile and savor the site within my life time.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      Thanks so much, the desert is really a beautiful place.

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  56. I love it…! I’m from Chile and just spent a couple of month visiting grandma in the city. I can’t wait to go back ;-/

  57. Steven Taylor says:

    We just got back from the North of Chile – and like you say it’s really spectacular. Let’s hope you make it further South next time as there are lots of many beautiful places in the South of Chile.

    1. Ayngelina Author says:

      I will definitely be back, it was such a short time in Chile and I really want to see more.

  58. Leslie (Downtown Traveler) says:

    We also loved the Martian landscape of San Pedro de Atacama! We went sandboarding on our own and it was very cool feeling like the only people to traverse that stretch of sand (at least at the moment we were there). Beautiful photos 🙂

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