Discover the Atacama Desert: LAFL Photo Contest Winner
There are some places in the world so majestically beautiful that a mere photograph is a woefully inadequate representation. The Chilean Atacama Desert is one such place. Yet Aleksandar Jankovic, one of our hard-working Latin America For Less travel advisors, came close to successful replication with the above photo, which made him a winner in our 2011 Latin America For Less Photo Contest.
The kaleidoscopic cotton candy sky melts over the horizon and across the ground, swirling around flamingos and disappearing only when confronted by the distant but looming Andean mountain range. The Atacama salt flat, Salar de Atacama, stretches over 1,860 square miles, making it the second largest salt flat in the world, and one of the most bizarrely beautiful areas of the 40,600-square mile northern Chilean desert.
“The landscape in the Atacama is like nothing I’d ever seen before,” says Aleks, who snapped the photo during a break from his studies back in 2007. His comment rings with authority, as Aleksandar is no stranger to deserts. A native of Serbia, Aleks spent four years studying international tourism management in Qatar, a sandy country roughly the size of Connecticut and home to the renowned UNESCO Khor Al-Adaid natural reserve. “The desert in Qatar has nothing on the Atacama,” he declares.
The Atacama Desert is known for being extremely dry and arid—some parts of the desert have never felt recorded rainfall—and its high altitude and regularly clear skies makes it one of the best places in the world for astronomy studies.
This particular photo opportunity came at the end of a guided desert tour, just as the sun was starting to set.
“It was a unique day because there were clouds, and that made all the difference,” Aleks says. “My camera isn’t that great, but every picture was turning out amazing. I didn’t use any special effects or anything; it was pretty unreal.”
Aleks has been part of the Latin America For Less team for six months and says he loves his job because of the clients. “Every day is something different: a new question, a new client, a new destination. It is never boring.”
He recommends that those interested in traveling to Chile schedule at least 10 days, if possible, in order to fully appreciate the diversity the country has to offer. “If you go to Chile, you have to see: Santiago, Patagonia, and the Atacama Desert. These are must sees.”
After the Atacama Desert, Aleks thinks the Colca Canyon in Peru also has great natural beauty, and highly recommends the destination.
He also carries a flame for Buenos Aires, Argentina, which he has visited twice and is where he hopes to live one day.