Valle de la Luna - Have you ever walked on the surface of the Moon?

On our trip to get to Santiago from the Arica we stopped in the city of San Pedro de Atacama, a very well know tourist attraction in Chile.
We stayed in the city for three days and saw a lot of very cool things, but probably the most famous and visited place in the San Pedro de Atacama area is the "Valley of the Moon".

I and @lezra absolutely wanted to visit the valley. Still, as neither of us had remembered to book our tickets online in time, we got quite stuck with the timing. The only ones available were for 01 January, where understandably people after New Year's Eve had decided to sleep in in the morning.

The road to get to the Vally is the same one you take to come to San Pedro from the Calama (but going back this time), and this street in itself is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen... the whole road is surrounded on both sides by this amazingly red and tall rocks.

The video was made using our drone

Upon entering the valley, the guides indicate how to visit it. Mainly you move around by car to cover a total of 10 km and stop at specific points where you can take walks/trekking of different durations (ranging from 10 min to 90 min in length) and admire the spectacle of this place. The valley is so-called because its surface actually resembles that of our satellite.

Unfortunately, some of the areas that can usually be visited, such as a cave with stalactite formations that looked incredible from the pictures, were unfortunately closed due to work (I hope that if one day you decide to go and visit it, you will find everything accessible).

Obviously, like all places in this area of Chile, you absolutely must remember to bring sunscreen. The sun's rays are very intense, and moreover, being at altitude, one tends to underestimate their danger because of the not-too-high temperatures and the presence of wind. But I can assure you that this is a mistake absolutely to be avoided ... And I am speaking from personal experience ... I forgot to put cream on my legs (I was wearing shorts and not long trousers as you can see from the pictures) and spent the whole day in the sun walking. Of course, I didn't notice anything at the time, as we were at a high altitude and there was a lot of wind blowing. When I got back to San Pedro after the tour, I went with @lezra for a walk around Calle Caracoles, the main street of the town where there are all the shops, restaurants, and souvenir shops. In one of the shops in particular, I bent down for a moment to see one of those magnetic plates that stick to the fridge, and as I did this I realized that something had gone wrong... I looked at my legs, and they were a fiery red color 🔥. We immediately went back to our Airbnb, and luckily @lezra had some body creams which I applied on the toasted cambers, giving me some relief. Of course the next day I put on long trousers and kept my jacket and hat on, although the temperature was high... But if I have to choose I prefer sweaty to burnt ...

So we set off by car, and after about ten kilometers we arrived at the first path... This is divided into two trails, named 1 and 2 (obviously) and it is possible to visit them in different ways:

  • Both, starting from 1 and then reaching 2. In this case, the tour takes about forty minutes, and is not recommended for those who suffer from vertigo, as you reach some very narrow open parts where the wind blows;
  • Only number 2. In this case, the tour takes about 10 min, the path is much easier and the view is still very good.
    I and @lezra chose the first alternative, as neither of us has any problems with heights and it was worth it as you can see from the photos we took.

One thing that particularly struck me was these 'seas of sand' (I made up the term but I don't know what they are actually called, and this is the impression they left on me) that interrupt the expanses of rocks in certain places. Probably from the photos I took you cannot fully appreciate the impressions and emotions they aroused in me (since you lose the three-dimensionality of things in photos), but I assure you they are beautiful. They gave me an impression of tranquillity and perfection, albeit apparent because when you get closer you can clearly see the individual grains that make it up, but from a distance, it looks like one continuous, sort of smooth and perfect carpet.

Having passed this first point, one continues by car for a few kilometers and arrives at the second path, the longest. In this case, it takes about 1h 30 min to complete, and given the presence of sand (as well as the various differences in height) it also requires a physical effort that should not be underestimated if you are not trained... Above all, walking on sand on the ascent is very tiring, while the descent is more fun (as well as being less tiring on the knees). At some points, if you have a surfboard or something that simulates it, you can even try a bit of improvised sporty descent.
This route has three observation points in total, from which you can admire the Amphitheatre, one of the most famous rock formations in the valley, which is reminiscent of a ... Drum roll... Amphitheatre... Yes, you guessed it... Well done...
At these points, you can stop (or rather I would say that you must stop, to breath) and take photos of the splendid panorama that surrounds you...

After returning to the car, we continue for a few kilometers and reach a new route, in this case, a shorter one, where you can visit the salt mines, now abandoned, but which were used in the past. Here there is some old machinery now dismissed, which I found pretty cool, and you can also see how rich in salt the area was.

The last point to visit is the '3 Marie', which can be reached by car as usual and is directly opposite the stop. There is, therefore, no need to walk, but you can even take photos from the car if you are particularly lazy...

Together with the entrance ticket to the valley, you are also given an additional pass to enter the 'Coyote Pass' in the evening and enjoy the sunset from a very picturesque and romantic spot...
This pass is not in the Valley area but is on the road that connects San Pedro to Calama, just outside the town itself. This particular road is perhaps the thing I liked best about the whole area, it is really fascinating to drive on asphalt with these red rock walls with irregular and sharp shapes on both sides... Really very impressive and breathtaking.

The valley is stunning and evocative and you can immediately see why it is always suggested as one of the first attractions in San Pedro.

This is me smiling because I hadn't realized I had burnt myself yet

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All photos were taken with our phones or with the drone.
Farewell image and text separators, created by me with Canva

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