A Travellerspoint blog

Summer in Chile - 2017

Northern Chile - Moon Valley - Atacama Desert

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View from Valley of the Moon.

The Valley of the Moon was created around 22 million years ago.

At San Pedro De Atacama, the first tour I did was to the Valley of the Moon or El Valle de la Luna located in the Salt Mountain Range, 13kms west of San Pedro de Atacama.

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Valley of the moon

The tour ran for 4 hours between 4pm and 8pm - or when-ever sunset is. It wasn't very expensive as the site is close to San Pedro, in-fact we passed cyclists who had ridden there and back from San Pedro.
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Valley of the moon

As there were a lot of tour groups all heading there at the same time, I thought it was going to be overcrowded, but it wasn't. The tour companies seem to have a route worked out between them so this doesn't happen.

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Valley of the moon

I was amazed what this barren landscape produced in the way of interesting formations. Of course there is no plant or animal life here, but plenty of weird shapes, fragments of salt, gypsum, chlorate, clay and many specimens of rock.
The Valley of the Moon which is now a classified sanctuary, is known by that name as it is said the landscape is similar to the moon, I guess nearly all of us will have to take that as being true.

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Valley of the moon

Driving through it, I had itchy feet to get out and start exploring the various coloured stone and sand formations created by the wind and rain.
Our guide gave us a geology lesson, which I have since forgotten, but my memory is of an impressive range of color and texture, and the pretty white on the surface that looked like snow. Lucky we had a guide, as everybody thought the white was ordinary salt, but this was completely incorrect. He said the area hardly ever sees rain, but it had rained a fortnight ago, and this had caused the white sodium bi-carbonate to the surface. The normal salt he showed us later on our tour. We also learnt that if we came back next year, then shapes we had seen may be gone and many new ones would have appeared.

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Valley of the Moon

There were plenty of trails to follow, even one up to the Great Dune Look-out. I took my time as the air was thinner and I was already having difficulty breathing, it was worth it though, for the views from the top of the sand hill and along the high ridges were amazing. I think my favourite view was of the Amphitheatre an enormous rock formation that immediately made me think of the Great Wall of China.

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Amphitheatre

This whetted our appetite for more, so it was back in the bus and for a drive right through the centre of the Valley of the Moon. We stopped along the way for many walks, all produced different shapes, some had salt caves and the ruins of buildings left behind by miners.

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Old miner's building ruins

Finally, it was getting towards 8pm and we left the Valley of the Mooon behind and drove through Death Valley to see the sunset. This is where everybody finished the day, and even though there were lots of people scattered on the cliff tops, it really wasn't crowded.

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Sunset

Sunset was the only disappointment of this tour, it was non-existent. Can't blame the tour company for that!

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It was a great tour and one I thoroughly enjoyed!

Posted by balhannahrise 22:36 Archived in Chile Tagged landscapes desert sunsets

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Comments

I love your opening photo! Can I make you jealous by commenting that we had a fabulous sunset here?!!

by ToonSarah

Thanks Sarah! That opening photo came about when I stopped for a rest on the trail, turned around and that was my view. Just luck.

by balhannahrise

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