24 Mar
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Otters spotted.  Click here to go to our website about otters: amblonyx.com
...two travellers in search of the world's wildlife

23 June 2011

Blasted Atacama

22nd June 2011

Today was another transit day, south from Arequipa across the border to Arica. It was a journey of nearly seven hours across the most blasted and desolate landscape I have seen anywhere.

I mean, we’ve been to some deserts. I’ve seen the red sands of the Australian outback, but most of that huge hot landscape is covered in spinifex grass with occasional stands of gnarly gum trees where water still lurks underground. I’ve been in the Kalahari in South Africa and although sandy and tough it still has enough vegetation to support Ibex and Impala. The Thar desert of India has sand dunes, but more often our camels were wandering through grassy scrub and the dunes looked like they had been dumped in situ by a giant bulldozer to make the landscape more picturesque. Heck, even the bleak Tibetan plateau is scattered with small communities that find enough life to support their yaks and sheep.

But for six hours today we drove across plains and through hills that were just bare rock and parched sand. Absolutely no plants anywhere, except at the immigration post where someone was obviously carefully watering a purple bougainvilla. It was like taking a bus ride across the moon. Wow. And the oddest thing was, we passed through great banks of mist that were so laden with moisture the bus windows were soon rolling with fat droplets. Yet still nothing could grow.

Obviously the least vegetated landscape on earth is Antarctica. It’s ice, duh. But this coastal strip of the Atacama desert in southern Peru must be a very close second. Wow.

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