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FarSouthExp at iGoTerra
FarSouthExp @ Fat Birder / WAND

If you want to see updated trip details of our Coastal Atacama Desert tour, please click here: coastal-atacama-graphics

 

The Atacama Desert in bloom • Wildflower tour to Atacama's fog oasis

8 Aug 2011

 

Due to the intense and unusual winter rains that affected Chile's Atacama Desert, coastal and inland areas, during the months of June and July, a massive wildflower blooming event is expected to occur between the cities of Taltal (25° 24'S) down to La Serena (29°S 54'S), during the months of September through early November this year.

 

Leontochir ovallei (Alstroemeriaceae), Llanos de Challe NP, Atacama © Claudio F. Vidal - www.fsexpeditions.com

 

The outstanding rainfall figures that fell in some areas of the Atacama, even reaching some 25 mm, besides the consistent morning coastal fogs (known as 'camanchacas') affecting not just the immediate coast but also inland areas through gullies and valleys, determine ideal conditions for another spectacular Blooming Desert ('Desierto Florido') event.


I have been visiting the coastal Atacama during the last five years, and I would say, that due to the massive rains of this year, we can expect an event of even better characteristics of the blooming of 2010. See video.


Interesting fog oasis such as Paposo, Cifuncho, Pan de Azucar National Park, Llanos de Challe National Park plus several other localities, will be once again visited by hundreds of nature enthusiasts, attracted by the beauty and rarity of this stunning nature spectacle.

 

Cistanthe sp., Fam. Portulacaceae. Llanos de Challe, Atacama, Chile - September 2010 © Claudio F. Vidal, FS Expeditions

 

This unpredictable event is brief in duration, but certainly essential to renew the seed banks of hundreds of species, of annual and perennial plants, mostly endemic to this strip of coast of northern Chile. It is essential to be aware of the fragility of this plant community (known as 'lomas' vegetation) and the importance of avoiding major human impacts on its sustainability. 

 

We urge visitors planning a trip to the see the Atacama in bloom, to transit only in well-defined and permitted trails and to avoid to drive over flower fields. Be sensible in taking all your garbage with you and avoid to cut flowers and collect seeds and insects. Consider those as natural treasures that you have the privilege to admire, document and photograph.

 

We are organizing a wildflower-oriented trip to the Atacama [29 September - 6 October] which I will be leading in company of local guides. We will be publishing the trip outline, rates plus other useful information in the next few days. In the meantime, you can contact me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it if you are interested to join or to make inquiries.

 

Alstroemeria violacea, Fam. Alstroemeriaceae. Pan de Azucar, Atacama, Chile - September 2010 © Claudio F. Vidal, FS Expeditions

 

On Sunday 21st August, I will be giving a presentation entitled "Chile's Atacama Desert in bloom" during the British Birdwatching Fair, to be held at Rutland Water, UK [Friday 19th to Sunday 21st August 2011]. This will be celebration of the vibrant flowering plant diversity of the world's driest and inhospitable desert – the Atacama. We will discover how the 'fog zone' is a biodiversity hotspot on its own right. From endemic cacti to 'lomas' vegetation and the peculiar birds and mammals that find on these usually barren landscapes, a true and 'lush' paradise during the rare winter rains.

 

I invite you to see some images of the Atacama Desert in bloom contained in these photo galleries. [Flickr] [Smugmug]


All the best,


Claudio F. Vidal