Another quick Spanish to English lesson: Valle de la Luna = Valley of the Moon
We don’t know what it’s like to go hiking on Mars, but apparently this place is as close as you will get! Valle de la Luna is located in the Northern part of Chile in the Atacama Desert. Elements such as wind and water have carved out some unique landscapes in the rock and sand which has led to some amazing colors, shapes and textures across the Valle de la Luna.
After some of our other outdoor hiking activities in the Atacama Desert, we knew we wanted to see and do more! We decided that the Valle de la Luna would be the perfect combination of hiking and picture taking opportunities! We knew it would be a more advanced excursion, but we were up for the challenge and wanted to see what the Valle de la Luna had in store for us.
We arrived at the Valle de la Luna, not knowing what to expect, but were excited to be there! Before we began, our guide explained what we would be seeing and doing on this hike/tour through the Valle de la Luna. Time to lace up our boots and get the camera ready for this adventure.
Even before we started the hike, we were amazed at the 360 degrees of stunning views!
And we’re off…
Traveler Tip #1: Bring water! Some parts of the Valle de la Luna have not received rain in hundreds of years which makes it one of the driest places on Earth. This combined with the elevation changes and physical exertion made us thirsty!
Traveler Tip #2: Wear comfortable yet appropriate hiking shoes! We walked up the sides of mountains, over rocks and through sand dunes so do yourself a favor and make sure your feet are protected.
Traveler Tip #3: Hang back and away from the group for pictures. Do you really want to get home after being in a breathtaking area like Valle de la Luna only to have strangers in all of your photos? Even though we were in a small group, we always recommend moving ahead, stepping to the side or hanging back to get the perfect shot.
More awesome views. It was amazing the amount of changes and differences as we hiked. We could be going up a dark brown sand dune for 10 minutes only to find the other side was all red/orange rock formations.
As we mentioned before, we’ve never hiked on Mars, but this is what we imagine it would be like to do it. Not only do we think this is like Mars, but NASA thinks this as well! We learned that many government and private agencies for space exploration come to the Valle de la Luna to test out equipment. A prototype of the Mars Rover was tested here. This dry environment closely mimics the surface on Mars or the Moon!
Speaking of space, we didn’t see anything animals or birds the entire time we were here exploring. We did see some strange shapes as we hiked the astonishing landscapes and elevations.
After hiking over sand dunes, cliff sides and rock formations for a couple hours, we began ascending the side of a mountain. Our guide explained it would be the most strenuous part of our journey, but totally worth it in the end. Why ascend the mountain? The glorious views from above of the Valle de la Luna of course!
We spent a lot of time at this elevation looking out over the landscape, enjoying the view and seeing our route to get there.
Can you find Amanda in this one?
As we spent some time here, we were looking forward to watching the sun go down over the mountains. Our guide told us we could stay here at this point, but if we trusted her, she would take us to an even better place to watch the sunset. Being that she does this everyday and this is our first time, it was a unanimous decision to leave and head to her secret spot! We hiked down the mountain and back to the car for a quick drive.
Once we were back in the car, we quickly drove about 10-15 minutes away to “the best place to watch the sunset in the Atacama Desert”. We stepped out of the car to this view…
The views were pretty spectacular and very different than we saw earlier while hiking. This was a very relaxing time. What could make it more relaxing? Having a guide that sets up a snack and wine table for us to enjoy while watching the sun! Alto Atacama certainly provides top-notch excursions!
Overall it was an extraordinary day in the Valle de la Luna. We experienced so many different landscapes throughout the day in the Atacama Desert. It was a jaw-dropping adventure that was capped off by a beautiful sunset with a glass of Chilean wine in hand.
Have you been to the Atacama Desert?
Have you hiked the Valle de la Luna?
Have you hiked Mars?
Have you ever seen the sun set?
If you said “yes” to any of these questions, let us know in the comments! We would love to hear from you and answer any of your questions as well.