Now that my itinerary has finally been sorted for my trip to the north, it’s time to address the main issue of the Atacama Desert, namely, the environment.
Not only is it the driest hot desert in the world, with some parts having an average yearly rainfall of 15mm (or 2.5% of London’s average), however some parts are so dry that they’ve been compared to the environment found on Mars, and soil bacteria don’t even live there.
If that’s not challenging enough, the camp I’m staying at is at 4000m altitude (13000 feet ish for those of you who are still in the 19th century), which equates to an air pressure of 0.63 atmospheres, and an oxygen saturation of 70% or so. The possible effects of altitude – swelling of the lungs and brain – can be fatal, however drug treatments include Sildenafil, or viagra as it’s more commonly known.
The final bonus is the altitude means there’s a high level of ultraviolet radiation from the sun.
All this, in my home for the next two weeks (from Monday).