Chile's Atacama Desert is Once Again Covered in Wildflower Blooms

The Atacama Desert in northern Chile erupted in a colorful carpet of flowers earlier this month after an “intense and unexpected rain,” according to the BBC.

The flowering desert phenomenon usually happens every five to seven years, but this time the blooms come just two years after the previous “desierto florido.” The last display of flowers came after a flash flood in 2015 when the desert received two inches of rain in 24 hours.

Atacama is the driest place on Earth, outside of the North and South Poles. Typically, it only receives about a half-inch of rain per year.

Botanists have discovered more than 200 flower species in Atacama — several of which are unique to the area. Tourism officials told the BBC that they hope even more species of flower will bloom in the desert within the coming weeks.

The phenomenon typically only lasts until November. The colors of the blooms change every year, but this year tourists to the desert will be able to see fields of bright yellow, purple, and blue.

However tempting it may be, do not try to bring home souvenirs from the field. The blooms are protected by the government and it is strictly prohibited to pick any of the flowers.

1. The Atacama Desert
The driest place on Earth has erupted with wildflowers.
2. Unexpected Blooms
The carpet of wildflowers appeared after a month of rare, intense rain.
3. A Rare Phenomenon
Typically, flowers only appear here every five to seven years.
4. Desierto Florido
But the last desierto florido occurred only two years ago.
5. Bone Dry
The driest place on Earth — save for the Poles — typically only receives half an inch of rain every year.
6. Surprise Flowers
Now, the desert is blanketed in unanticipated wildflowers.
7. Rare Desert Species
More than 200 flower species have been discovered here — several of which are unique to Atacama.
8. No Souvenirs
The blooms are fiercely protected by the government.
9. Thoughtful Travels
Travelers visiting Atacama for the wildflower bloom are asked not to pick the flowers.
10. Vibrant Displays
In 2015, the desert stayed bright pink (pictured here) as late as November. Read on to learn more about the desert blooms — and see more incredible photos of wildflowers taking over Chile's Atacama Desert from past years.
11. El Nino
The baren Earth is instantly (and temporarily) awoken by heavy rains, typically during El Niño.
12. A Brief Attraction
Travelers typically only have until November to see this incredible phenomenon.
13. Time to Bloom
Tourism officials hope even more species of wildflower will bloom in the coming weeks, as some plants germinate more slowly.
14. Kaleidoscopic Fields
Today, tourists can see fields of bright yellow, purple, white, and blue flowers.
15. Awoken Wildlife
In addition to wildflowers, tourists will notice more insects, birds, and lizards than usual, according to The Guardian.
16. Getting There
Botanists and travelers interested in seeing the rare bloom will have to travel 400 miles north of Santiago, Chile.
17. Other Desert Blooms
But travelers don't need to fly to South America this fall to see a desert transformed by wildflower blooms.
18. California SUper Blooms
Like Atacama, California's Anza-Borrego Desert State Park experiences wildflower blooms after significant rainfall.
19. Diverse Flora
This year, Desert Sunflowers, Desert Lilies, Brown-eyed Primroses, and Little Gold Poppies blanketed the Californian park for the first time since 2008.
20. Death Valley Super Bloom
In 2016, Death Valley had its best display of wildflowers in a decade. Source: 1

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