World's Prettiest Mountain Towns
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San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
The earth’s driest desert
surrounds this small community, and lends it a haunting, barren sort of beauty.
The region just outside town, the Valle de la Luna, got its name for its
moon-like landscape; NASA has done tests of its Mars Rovers here. Adding to the
unearthly scenery is the long-dormant volcano of Licancabur, which looms above.
Get some mountain air: In
the daytime, try out sandboarding (the desert equivalent of snowboarding) on
dunes outside town. When night falls, turn your head to the skies at the San
Pedro de Atacama Celestial Exploration (SPACE), the largest public observatory
in Chile, with its near perfect star-gazing conditions.