Day 74: A Moonwalk at Sunset: Valle de la Luna

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This afternoon we booked to go on another popular tour here – Valle de la Luna or, if you like, Valley of the Moon.

We had a lazy morning before booking another tour for tomorrow and having an amazing lunch in the town. Seriously – if you’re ever in the desert, head to Los Gor2 and order the Italiano Mechado Sandwich… It. Is. The. BEST. We also had two caipirinhas and caipivodkas while we watched some really good musicians at the bar. All washed down with some complimentary pisco sours with rica-rica – a herb from the Atacama desert that is apparently good at settling your stomach.

At 4pm we met our guide and a large tour group in the square and boarded the bus to the Valley. Our first stop along the way was the Tres Marias, or the Three Marys, a natural rock formation that looks like three figures.

Then we got out and actually walked through Valle de la Luna, where between the landscaping of what is called ‘The Amphitheatre’, the rock formations and huge smooth sand dunes, you start to understand how it got it’s name. Our guide Osi, was fantastic in asking us thought provoking questions and teaching us about the geology of the rocks and the salt and crystals they formed.

We moved on to walking through one of the canyon type crevices that had been formed and listened to the crackling in the rocks. This is where rain has fallen into the cracks and in the cold has frozen, which means it’s expanding, and therefore breaking the rocks apart. It’s similar to the sound that ice makes when it first goes into warm water – except this could cause a rockslide at any moment so we moved on pretty sharpish as the cracking sounds got louder!

Next we climbed in a cave… kind of. First we ducked underneath huge rocks to stand inside a small cave and then had to climb up the other side to see the views of the rest of the canyon. They were awesome, but I stupidly wore sandals so for me, it was just as much a personal triumph making it without tumbling to my dusty death.

Lastly, we headed to Kari Canyon to watch the sun set over the Andes and the Atacama desert. It was one of the best sunsets we’ve seen so far, (although, they have all been incredible in different ways) and our guide expertly told us the place all the other tour guides tell their group to go, so pointed us in another direction if we wanted to catch the mountains turning pink before all the other tourists got to it. He was right and it was beautiful.

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