After our short stay in Valparaiso, Ryan and I headed back to Santiago to fly up north to San Pedro de Atacama, the world’s driest (non-polar) desert. Average rainfall in the Atacama region ranges from 1-15 mm per year, although some areas have reported up to four years without rain. The aridity of the area, and therefore the lack of plant life, the orangish soil, the salt flats, and the mountains all contribute to an otherworldly appearance. It truly does feel like being on Mars, and this landscape attracts thousands of visitors every year to the Atacama Desert despite its harsh weather conditions.
After Hoi An, and en route up to Hanoi, we decided to stop at Phong Nha Ke-Bang National Park (frequently shortened to just Phong Nha). We heard about Phong Nha’s caves from other travelers and thought it sounded worth checking out. We are so glad we went.