Chile stretches over half the South American continent – from the driest desert in the world to the glaciers of Tierra del Fuego. And with Rapa Nui (Easter Island), it calls one of the most isolated and mystic islands to its territory (left). Chuquicamata in northern Chile is the biggest copper mine in the world. Since the pollution of the mine was getting too heavy for the nearby city, its inhabitants were moved to another newly built residential zone (right).
The Atacama Desert is the driest place on earth with an average rainfall of only 15 millimeters a year. The lakes filled up with glacier water dry up quickly under the burning sun at an altitude of 2‘500m and leave back a salty crust where flamingos flock.
The cones of the volcanos close to the desert range up to 6‘000 meters in height. On an area of 23‘000 sqkm (the size of half of Switzerland) reside only about 5‘600 people.
Even though its length, the width of Chile measures only around 180 km on average. Which means the Pacific Ocean is never far - not even from the desert.
In the south of Chile the Andes and the so called „volcano belt“ end in the „Land of the Fire“, named after Magellan who observed from his ship the many camp fires of the native Yaghan.
The weather in Tierra del Fuego is almost unpredictable and can change drastically within hours.
The trade with seal fur and the rush for gold led to a genocide of the native groups in the area. They had disappeared almost completely by the end of the 19th century.
With snowy mountains and glacier lakes the southern tip of Chile reminds us that the next land masses to the south is the Antarctic.
As the diversity of mainland Chile wouldn't be enough Rapa Nui counts to its territory as well. About 3‘500 km away from the coast this isolated island with its hundreds of Moai (monolithic stone figures) is a mystical experience for its own.
Project: During a month I had the chance to travel through Chile from top to bottom and to experience the incredible landscapes of this magnificent country.