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As we go about our lives in the cities and suburbs, it’s easy to forget that vast and inhospitable places still exist on Earth. But even today, many remain, and the Atacama Desert is certainly near the top of that list.
This 41,000-square-mile barren landscape is located in Chile, just west of the Andes mountain range. It’s the driest nonpolar desert on earth, receiving a minuscule 0.6 inches of precipitation per year on average.
Since some parts of the region are so arid that no plant or animal life can survive, it has even been used by scientists to simulate the conditions of Mars. Aside from a few coastal towns and tiny mining settlements, human population in the Atacama is extremely low.
Needless to say, this is an incredibly difficult environment to traverse, but mountain bike athlete Lorraine Blancher and her companion and cameraman Robin Munshaw set out to do just that. Blancher and Munshaw explored the unmapped wild trails on a multi-day bikepacking trip. In partnership with Osprey, the pair documented their trip to create a 13-minute short film titled Beyond Trails: Atacama.
An intense snowstorm at the outset of the trip caused some delays, but the pair eventually made it into Chile, entered the desert, and left their truck behind to bike out into the wilderness. Blancher said of this experience, “Every new trail you travel on or off the beaten path brings uncertainty. Riding bikes in a place like this forces you to pay attention to the terrain, listen closely to suggestions on how to move through it.”
Check out the short film below, or visit Osprey.com for more information on this journey and the gear involved.