The driest place on earth is .

Northern Chile's Atacama Desert typically gets a measly 0.6 inches of rain in an entire year. Nevertheless, every five to seven years—usually along with El Niño weather patterns—multitudes of beautiful mallow flowers fill the arid landscape with a surreal expanse of color. It's like finding a botanical garden on Mars (it so happens, by the way, that Atacama frequently plays the red planet in movies and NASA simulations).

What makes the current flowering in the desert unique is that it's about three years too early—the phenomenon last appeared in 2015, when the photo above was taken. But the northern part of Chile received unusually heavy rain and severe flooding in May of this year, resulting in the Atacama's premature display.

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If you'd like to see the flowers for yourself, you'll have to hurry—though they do tend to stick around longer than other blooms elsewhere in the world. Atacama is expected to maintain its floral glory into early November.

Tags: chile, atacama, deserts, wildflowers

Categories: News & Travel Briefing, Outdoor & Adventure, Photography, Timing Your Trip