When I planned my 4.5 week epic adventure across South America, I knew I had to include Chile. Not the whole length of this enormous country, but just the tip in the North. San Pedro de Atacama was one of my 7 reasons to visit South America. After I ticked off the Stargazing in Chile from my bucket list, I strolled around town for other things to do. Most tours from San Pedro de Atacama start really early in the morning (think 4 am) or last the whole day. As I wasn’t feeling very well, I took things easy and only took the half day tour to Valle de la Luna near San Pedro de Atacama.
Valle de la Luna
The Valley of the Moon is located right next to the little settlement of San Pedro de Atacama in Antofagasta region in northern Chile. Wind and water eroded this valley and the Valle de la Luna displays different sand and stone formations. The colours are spectacular and to see them all, you can take a Moon Valley tour or explore on your own by renting a bike.
A tour of Valle de la Luna
As I was quite sick and wanted to take things easy, I opted to take a tour. But you can also rent a bike and cycle the 13 km/ 8 miles to the Valley of the Moon. I saw some people cycling and if you bring enough water and protection from the sun and sand, you can do it independently.
Because I felt
lazy sick, I took the tour in a mini Van. Together with 10 or 12 other people, the tour company toured us around the sights. We left around 3.30 pm but depending on the summer or winter time this could be 3 or 4 pm. I paid 8.000 CLP for the tour and 3.000 CLP for the entrance to the national park.
As I don’t have an epic guide or how-to or ’10 things to see in the Valle de la Luna in San Pedro de Atacama’, I’m just sharing my pictures with you. That’s why I call this a photo guide. Be inspired, be amazed and start planning your trip to northern Chile!
The Rim of the Valle de la Luna
We first drove out to the Rim of the Moon Valley. From here we had almost 180 degrees views of the Valley of the Moon with the mountains and the volcanos in the back.
At first, I thought: that can’t be snow right? At the bottom of the Valley, you could see small white stuff. Our guide soon explained it is salt, giving the Valle de la Luna an even more alien look. Did you know they tested the Mars rover at the Moon Valley in Chile?
The 180 degree views of the Valle de la Luna were stunning. We were pretty high up so we could look down on the valley, but we were also surrounded by mountains and volcanos.
Although I travelled solo, I could still hear the voice of my boyfriend in my head: not too close to the edge. Be careful! Standing up was not so scary, but getting back up after I sat down was quite frightening as some loose rocks tumbled into the deep.
Caves and Rock climbing
I could hardly walk around because of all the blisters on my feet from hiking the Colca Canyon in Arequipa, so I was in shock to find out we would walk through the caves. I was even more mortified to discover we had to climb up and down again to get back to our van. So much for this
lazy easy tour of the Valle de la Luna!
I didn’t enjoy crawling through the small caves but it was a really nice experience to see where the water goes, how it meanders through stone and rock. And to be honest, the views from this side were equally amazing.
It was also really nice to feel the rocks. The granite is so hard and yet, wind and water carve their way through them and leave a scared surface behind.
The 3 Marias of the Valley of the Moon
After our rock climbing on the other side of the Valle de la Luna, we returned to our van and discovered another side of the Moon Valley. The area is huge and I felt happy to hop back in the van. We were dropped at the tres Marias. Rock statues in the shape of praying Marias. I think I lost my imagination, can you discover the shape of a Maria? Or even all three?
Sun set on the moon
After this, we walked along this gigantic sand dune. I was thinking to myself: No way we were going to climb that? Right?! But the guide promised coke and crisps at the top, so I trotted along. It’s safe to say I obviously came in last, but I still made it to see the sun set over the Valle de la Luna.
Nothing but sand, rocks and the sun dropping behind the dunes. We moved to another view point where we had (almost) uninterrupted views of the mountains and volcano in the back. The setting sun coloured the rocks all hues of pink and red. There was no wind, no animals. People got quiet. It wasn’t a dramatic sun set with loads of clouds, but this sun set over the Valle de la Luna was mine.
I hope you enjoyed the pictures in the photo guide to the Valle de la Luna in Chile. Have you ever been to San Pedro de Atacama? Is Chile on your list of places to discover? Let me know!