The world's driest desert is the Atacama, caught up at extreme altitudes within an Andean basin, shielded from the life-giving rain. There is water here, except for geyser fields and hot springs boiling up from the volcanic depths, rivers fed from snowy peaks above, and the lithium-rich Atacama Salt Lake.
The crackling salt surface of Salar de Atamaca, the world's second-largest salt flats, partially obscures the extent of this mineral-blue salt sea. Where the rich waters break through crystalline formations, flamingos and other seabirds match their plumage against the pink-and-purple painted hills.
There are several major lagoons, including Lagunas Miscanti, Chaxa, and most famously Cejar, a sinkhole boasting a salt concentration so high that "you can do yoga on the surface." While you can explore these harsh environs on your own, most visitors book multiple-day trips through the wilderness.