The Valle de la Luna (or Valley of the Moon) is San Pedro’s most famous attraction. The valley gets its name because of its terrain, which is said to be the closest thing to a lunar landscape on the planet. It’s also fairly close to town so, instead of a tour, we opted to rent bikes and get there on our own.
The ride was about 15km with ups and downs and nice scenery.
The Valle de la Luna is part of a mountain range made almost entirely of salt. The first feature you see when you arrive are the salt caves.
Looking close, you can see the salt crystals more clearly.
At parts, you need to contort to get through. And other parts (no pics) are completely dark.
When you emerge from the caves, you find a unique landscape. That white stuff is salt, not snow.
Some parts inside the valley are too steep to bike.
Some places you see sand.
Other parts are powdered with salt.
And some parts just seem to say, “Peace, man.”
To prepare for sunset, we climbed to the top of the great dune,
and ate the avocado sandwiches we brought for dinner.
The view from up there was pretty great.
Eventually the sun began to set.
And we soaked it in.
But the thing about biking and staying til after sunset, is that the ride back is completely dark.
The ride was both cool and nerve racking. Cool because we were alone in this wild place and the stars were bright and clear enough to see the milky way. Nerve racking because, well, it was pitch dark in a crazy place and we were miles away from town.
Eventually we watched the moon rise over the Andes and that brought enough light to see. We returned 2 hours later than we said and much more exhausted than we anticipated, but the evening was a perfect finish to our week in San Pedro de Atacama.
This day was a clear highlight of our trip so far.
Will & Elizabeth