Puna de Atacama – Desert Giants Aloft
Born of the subduction of the Antarctic and Nazca tectonic plates beneath the South American continental plate, the Andes rank as the longest chain of mountains on the planet, at over 5,000 miles in length. The Andes also stand as the world's highest mountain chain outside of Asia's Himalaya, with the range's high point, Argentina's Aconcagua, reaching nearly 23,000 feet in altitude above sea level. Variegated in their physical forms, altitudes, and climates, from the sheer granite spires of Patagonia to the lushly vegetated coastal ranges of Columbia, the Andes contains perhaps the most diverse group of landforms of any distinct natural structure on the globe. One of the least known, yet unique, of these Andean landscapes lies in the virtually unpopulated central portion of the range in northeastern Chile and adjoining northwestern Argentina, the Puna de Atacama.
ED DARACK is an independent author and photographer. Learn more at www.darack.com.