Adventure Travel Oddities Outdoors

Why Are Flowers Blooming in the Driest Desert on Earth?

Find out what’s causing this natural phenomenon.

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile is one of the driest places in the world, but after a year of record downpours, something magical has happened: It’s a phenomenon called Desierto Florido, or Flowering Desert, and it means that bright pink flowers have sprung up all across the Atacama.

Though a small floral bloom is expected at this time of year, never has the result been so abundant and colorful. Earlier in the year, the desert underwent an increase in humidity and received an additional 2.4 inches of rain. This bizarre weather pattern is believed to be the same one that produced the enormously powerful Hurricane Patricia.

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The Atacama Desert is just two hours from Chile’s capital of Santiago, and tour operators in Chile are ready to bring tourists through the mountains and into the desert to experience this phenomenon. The National Tourism Service expects the flowers will bring 20,000 tourists to the area and asks those who come to refrain from cutting the flowers.

The flowers are expected to disappear after November, but even if you can’t make it to Chile by then, you can still enjoy some of the incredible photographs from travelers on Instagram:

A photo posted by Paola Castro (@paola_acv) on Oct 24, 2015 at 12:15pm PDT

A photo posted by Paola Castro (@paola_acv) on Oct 29, 2015 at 5:38pm PDT

A photo posted by @chiletravel on Sep 2, 2015 at 2:24pm PDT

A photo posted by Alejandro Enrique (@aleardile) on Oct 19, 2015 at 6:26am PDT

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Jamie Ditaranto is a writer and photographer who is always looking for her next adventure. Follow her on Twitter @jamieditaranto.

(Photo: Guillermo Andre via flickr/CC Attribution)

By Jamie Ditaranto

Jamie Ditaranto is a traveler in a love triangle with writing and photography. Follow the drama on Twitter @jamieditaranto and Instagram @jamieditaranto.

Ditaranto joined SmarterTravel in 2015. She loves ecotourism, cities with history, and discovering local hangouts. Though she likes all the continents equally, she holds a special place in her heart for rainy little islands.

Her work has also appeared online at USA Today, Huffington Post, Business Insider, and other publications. You can check out her photography on her website.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "My instant camera comes in handy for giving instant gifts to new friends."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Befriending penguins in Antarctica."

Travel Motto: "You have to get the hard places out of the way first."

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "On short flights, the window. For long flights, the aisle."

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