Latin America & Caribbean

Chile's Atacama desert: World's driest place in bloom after surprise rain

People take pictures of the flowers in the Atacama Desert, Chile, 22 August 2017. Image copyright EPA
Image caption Chileans and tourists from further afield come to view the unusually colourful desert

After intense and unexpected rain fell in the north of Chile, parts of the usually arid Atacama desert have turned into a carpet of flowers.

The "desierto florido" (flowering desert) phenomenon usually occurs every five to seven years when rains cause buried seeds to germinate and flower.

But this bloom comes just two years after a a particularly colourful flowering in 2015.

More than 200 species of plant have been found to grow in the area.

The spectacle draws visitors and botanists from Chile and further afield.

Tourism officials said they hoped more flowers would bloom in the coming weeks as different species germinate at different times.

Image copyright EPA
Image caption From afar the flowers look like snowfall
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Colours vary from white...
Image copyright EPA
Image caption ...to yellow...
Image copyright EPA
Image caption ...to purple
Image copyright EPA
Image caption Usually, the landscape, which hosts the Atacama rally, looks a lot more barren

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