Top Reasons to Go to El Norte Grande
San Pedro de Atacama: This unassuming town in the middle of the desert is a world-class destination for the beautiful outdoor excursions nearby. Visit magical moonlike landscapes, large sand dunes, lush valleys filled with 900-year-old cactus plants, salt flats with blue lagoons, and surreal geysers with steam and bubbling water at dawn break.
Flora and fauna: Yes, the Atacama Desert is one of the driest places on earth. But head to the Chilean Altiplano, just a few hours east of Arica, and you'll find an abundance of fauna and, depending on the season, flora. Pink flamingos dot the edges of volcanic lakes like Lago Chungará on the Bolivian border, and slender brown vicuñas run in small herds through the sparse grasslands.
Pristine beaches: Pristine sands line the shore near Arica and Iquique. The beaches are packed during summer months, but in the off season you just might have the beach to yourself.
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