The desert typically gets just 0.6 inches (15 millimeters) of rain a year. Even so, it's earned the name "desierto florido" (flowering desert) from locals because whenever it rains enough, dormant seeds in the soil take root, and burst into a wide array of yellow, orange, green, purple and red.
These "super blooms" typically happen every five to seven years because of El Niño, a climatic cycle in the Pacific Ocean. But the last super blooms sprung up in 2015, making this one a colorful and fragrant surprise.
Research suggests that before the Atacama became an arid desert, it was filled with marshes and lakes.