To the MOON (Valley)

Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama... another 24 hour bus ride.

Our 24 hour bus ride from Santiago to San Pedro de Atacama was about as much fun as it sounds: not very.  But we have gotten used to them at this point and knew that this would (hopefully) be the last 20+ hour bus ride of the trip. The town of San Pedro de Atacama is located in the Atacama desert and known as one of the driest places in the world. It is also nearby the “Valle de la Luna”, or Valley of the Moon, a supposed must-see destination here. We decided to check it out before getting ready to make our way into Bolivia in two days.

Dana in front of the church in S.P. de Atacama

I’ll be honest: the first half of the tour to Valle de la Luna left me pretty disappointed. Other than seeing  the cool salt crystallizations on some of the rock formations, nothing seemed that incredible or otherworldly in comparison to places in the southwestern United States like Arizona or New Mexico. Not to mention a big stretch of cloudy skies managed to literally cast a shadow over any interesting picture opportunities. However, it could be that Dana and I are simply becoming jaded travel snobs that can only marvel at the best of the best in sightseeing…… nah, couldn’t be that.

It looks like snow, but it's actually salt

More salt

After the tour dropped us off at the final sightseeing destination where we were going to watch the sunset, there was a reasonable climb to where we could have a better view of the valley. From here the view was finally worth the price of admission. A giant windswept sand dune straddled between a dramatic valley was quite a beautiful site indeed.

THis view was worth the price of admission

Dana out in the distance

The sun also decided to come out, with a dramatic vista of dark clouds behind the mountains. After hiking further out, we got to see something that we assume is incredibly rare in the driest place in the world: a rainbow! Some places in the Atacama desert haven’t received rain in over a hundred years, so we figured this was a pretty special event we got to witness. It wasn’t a full rainbow, but we didn’t complain. On our way back from the short hike, Dana and I took in the sunset. For a place that started out a bit so-so, it sure did finish strong and leave a pleasant memory of our visit to the Valley of the Moon.

We think this was a pretty rare sight

Enjoying the view

A real-life skittles commerical

Desert sunset

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3 Responses to To the MOON (Valley)

  1. Heather B. says:

    amazing pictures…what am I going to do when your journey is over? Dana, you look gorgeous in that shot. yeah, that one…you know which one I’m talking about 😉 xoxo

  2. Bruce Johnson says:

    Amazing pics; especially that last one in this post. Gorgeous.

    I’m glad you didn’t ask to turn around and go back before getting to the second half of the tour; jaded travel snobs.

    Also; nice rainbow! Is the Valley of the Moon completely a reserve or park or are there any inhabitants in the area at all?

    • akiefer says:

      I’m glad you liked the pics, and yes, we fully deserve the jaded travel snob comment 🙂 There are no inhabitants in the Valley of the Moon Park, the town of San Pedro de Atacama is about 20 mins away.

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