Atacama. The word rolls off the tongue as easily as nature’s palette moves across the surface of the Mars-like vistas. Home to the driest non-polar desert in the world, Atacama is at once a geological phenomenon and a place of deep history of copper and salt mining. Located on the Pacific Ocean in the northern third of Chile, the Atacama Desert stretches nearly 1,600 km north to south. For Blancher, it’s been a place of wonder ever since she picked up a copy of National Geographic when she was younger. She read about the unique geological features of the most arid desert on earth, which also has massive mountains skirting its borders that sometimes saw snow, in spite of receiving an average annual precipitation of 15mm per year. “It’s been a destination that’s intrigued me for years, long before I ever thought that my mountain bike could be used to explore its rugged terrain,” she said. This past June, Blancher and filmer Robin Munshaw finally made the trek south of the equator to experience the mystical terrain for themselves.