South America has actually impressive mountains, rainforests, and coasts, however it additionally has incredible deserts across the continent. Learn around 14 the the finest deserts in south America below.

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These fourteen significant deserts in south America (not come be perplexed with southern American desserts) space sure to impress. If the region is far better known for the Amazon Rainforest and also the Andes Mountains, you shouldn’t overlook the it s as beautiful as picture deserts top top your next South American vacation.

Covering around a seventh of the earth’s surface, desert landscapes differ from sandy to icy and also hilly to flat. However they all have actually one thing in common: they space extremely dry. A desert is technically a place with an average of 10 inch (25 centimeters) or less of yearly rainfall. Their barren landscapes carry out spectacularly beautiful scenery, as well as many adventure activities. 

Table of Contents

Last update by Melissa Dreffs in respectable 2020.

1. Atacama Desert, Chile

Chile is house to the most famous desert in south America: the Atacama Desert. Situated along the shore of north Chile, it provides incredible, breathtaking landscapes. ~ above an Atacama Desert tour, you can see the area’s main attractions. Astounding volcanoes skipping the largest salt level in south America, the Salar de Atacama. In addition, one more impressive site is the Valle de la Luna, or Moon Valley. V terrain that looks comparable to the moon, it truly feels the end of this world.


Sand and also hills the the Atacama Desert.


Despite gift the driest desert in south America, Atacama has actually a variety of wildlife, including flamingos, coots, and also even Humboldt penguins. She most most likely to spot castle congregated near the shore or around little lagoons. In enhancement to birds, the an ar provides ample opportunities to see colorful rock strata, impressive geysers, and also picturesque towns. Additionally, Atacama has actually some the the finest stargazing skies in the world. Chile’s Atacama Desert draws countless scientists and astronomers with the area’s remarkably clean skies. And also surprisingly, this desert is home to roughly a million people, together well. 

Read much more about the Atacama Desert here. 


Atacama desert. Photograph by Marcus Dall Col ~ above Unsplash.


2. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

This salt desert may adjust your concept of deserts altogether. Situated in Bolivia’s southwest corner, this immense, sparkling sea the salt is beautifully blinding. In ~ a lofty height of 11,985 feet (3,653 meters) above sea level, the Salar de Uyuni travelers have to look out for altitude sickness. 


Cacti and rocks in the Uyuni desert. Photo by Robin Noguier on Unsplash.


The salt desert is massive, measuring in ~ 4,633 square mile (12,000 square kilometers). However, Uyuni was when a primitive salt lake the covered most of southwest Bolivia. It dried up and also its remains created a beautiful geographic function of their own—today’s spectacular Salar de Uyuni. This otherworldly Bolivian see is speckled through flamingos and also colorful lagoons choose the red Laguna Colorada and the jade environment-friendly Laguna Verde. Once you stand through your ago to the vibrant lakes and gaze come the horizon, every you have the right to see for miles is one gigantic expanse of countless white salt.

Take a look in ~ our Uyuni travel overview here and also don’t forget to carry some props for distinctive perspective photos!


Moon over the Uyuni salt flats. Photograph by Regina Calvo ~ above Unsplash.


3. Peruvian coastal Desert, Peru

There is a constant desert along south America’s Pacific coast. This desert stretches from the Sechura Desert in northern Peru come the Atacama Desert in Chile. While there is little consensus ~ above the name for the area between the Sechura and Atacama Deserts, that is nevertheless spectacular. Some contact it the Tacama, Paracas, or Nazca Desert, and also others consider it an extension of the Atacama Desert. Everything the name, this area is home to an superior amount of history, culture, and also adventure.


Rolling dunes along the Peruvian seaside Desert. Picture by Ana Castañeda because that Peru for Less.

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With the superior Andes mountains as the neighbor, many travelers often overlook Peru’s coastal desert. But with the mysterious Nazca Lines and also the charming cities of Paracas, Nazca and also Ica, this area is a must-see. Just a few hours southern of Lima, these attractions—as well as the Paracas national Reserve and the Ballestas Islands—are simple to reach. Visitors deserve to easily incorporate a Paracas tour and also Nazca tour with various other Peruvian destinations.