Chile Desert Surprises With Rare Winter Bloom

By Reuters
July 9, 2024Americas
Chile Desert Surprises With Rare Winter Bloom
A view shows an area of the Atacama desert during a natural phenomenon known as 'Desierto Florido' (flowering desert), which fills the driest desert in the world with flowers and plants, near Copiapo, Atacama region, Chile, on July 6, 2024. (Rodrigo Gutierrez/Reuters)

ATACAMA DESERT, Chile—The sand dunes of Chile’s Atacama desert, the driest on the planet, have been blanketed by white and purple blooms in recent days after early rains caused flowers to spring up in the dead of the Southern Hemisphere winter.

The Atacama has been dubbed the “flowering desert,” with resistant seeds and bulbs enduring the harsh weather to pop up as flowers every few years in the spring.

There have not yet been enough winter blooms to officially be considered an occurrence of the “flowering desert,” according to Cesar Pizarro, who heads biodiversity conservation for the National Forestry Corporation (CONAF), an organization run by the Chilean government.

But more rains are expected over the next few weeks, which could cause flowers to bloom across a wider area, Mr. Pizarro said. “In the meantime, we have to wait,” he said.

Early blooming of the Atacama last occurred in 2015.

“The opportunity to step foot in this place, and to be able to enjoy the beauty of it, is wonderful,” said visitor Fernanda Ponce. “It’s a privilege.”