This is truly a sight to see. The driest non-polar desert in the world is now a sea of pink flowers, all because of deadly historic rain during this year’s El Niño.
Heavy rains in March led to mudslides and floods that killed 28 people, and left thousands of others homeless. In August, the rains recommenced in association with El Niño, causing destruction.
But it also led to this rare and beautiful phenomenon. Only in the United States, Australia, and Chile. 200 species of plants and flowers are native to this region, but the arid lands don’t bloom very often. These particular pink flowers are called pink mallow flowers.
Daniel Diaz, the director of the National Tourism Service in Atacama, said:
“The Atacama region was punished, but also blessed by the phenomenon of a flourishing desert, something that happens only after the rains, this time brought about by El Niño and climate change.
The intensity of blooms this year has no precedent. And the fact that it has happened twice in a same year has never been recorded in the country’s history. We are surprised.”
Atacama is also known as the place where 33 miners were trapped underground for 71 days before being rescued, and the destination is now listed in the Lonely Planet travel guide as one of the top 10 destinations of 2015.
The governor of Atacama Miguel Vargas said that tourism has been instrumental in helping the Atacama region recover from a year of natural disasters.
“Tourism gives us a chance to boost the economy and not be dependent only on mining, as it has happened so far.”
With these gorgeous flowers in bloom, probably lasting until sometime in November, now’s the time to visit Atacama, Chile.