Chile's Atacama Desert has turned into a mauve-coloured carpet of flowers following a downpour of rain from the country's north that has seen the normally arid region turn to a psychedelic wonderland of shades of purple. This phenomenon takes place every five to seven years but this is the most spectacular blossoming the region has seen in the past 18 years.

It comes after the heaviest rains to hit Chile's northern desert regions in 20 years. At least 28 people were killed in the torrential downpours that caused mudslides and rivers to breach their banks. The large patches of blooms have radically transformed the Atacama Desert, 466 miles north of Santiago, into a rich tapestry of exotic flowers.

The "very intense" rains in the normally arid north of the country helped the area to flourish with more than 200 native species, filling the desert with unusual scents and colours, local media reported. Rodrigo Ruiz, acting regional director of Chile's National Tourism Service, Sernatur, said the blooming had surpassed all previous ones.

"It occurred in a very particular way because we have not had such a large flowering in the past 18 years. In 2010 we had a long flowering but already this year, 2015, has surpassed all the previous ones," Ruiz said.

Plant bank seeds, which had remained dormant for years, were stimulated by the rains, attracting birds, insects, lizards and rodents to the area. Ramon Cortes, who owns a plot of land in Vallenar, called the phenomenon a "miracle." He said: "For us it was a miracle because in several years, I believe, based on my age and the time I have been here, I had never seen what the grass looks like until now."

Throughout the year, Atacama attracts tourists to its national parks, pristine beaches, spectacular mountainous landscapes and protected natural areas.

Additional reporting by Reuters.