Close Window
Driest Desert Blooms in Chile November 11, 2011
Desert wildfires in Llanos de Challes National Park (Chile).
The color of water: More than 200 species of formerly dormant wildflowers have emerged due to a year of regular rainfall in the normally parched Atacama Desert.
Parts of the world’s driest desert are now carpeted in vibrant color from wildflowers that bloomed in the wake of the region’s wettest winter in decades.

Despite the spectacle, only a handful of tourists have arrived in Chile’s Atacama Desert to see flowers emerging from the sand, around cacti and even out of cracks in rocks.

Atacama’s Llanos de Challes National Park, 370 miles north of Santiago, is expected to be in a springtime bloom until December.

The parched region normally receives only a trace amount of rainfall each year.

But a near-record La Niña in the nearby tropical Pacific brought around 2 inches of rainfall to the park over the past year.

Park director Carla Louit told Agence France Presse that flowers begin to grow there after about 0.6 inches of seasonal rainfall.

But it must fall in regular intervals and not be too heavy or infrequent. This year produced such favorable conditions not seen since 1998, according to local residents.

Photo: Johann B. - Flickr