This was the very first tour that I took in the Atacama Desert. Since it starts in the late afternoon and it doesn’t have variations in altitude, it’s a good idea to take this tour on the first day of your trip. This way you can take the early hours of the day to walk around and choose your agency in San Pedro, as well as to start getting used to the altitude.
The Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) and Valle de la Muerte (Death Valley) tour starts at 4 pm. We were punctual to get in the car on our way to the first adventure in the desert.
The path to the first stop takes no more than 2 km. As soon as we jumped out of the car, my jaw dropped… The landscape was surreal! We were right at the top of a big stone wall that gave us a breathtaking view.
Pedra do Coiote (Coyote Stone) is located there, where everyone lines up to take a picture. The stone is suspended on the wall and you feel like you’re flying in that vastness.
Take your time to jump as much as you need until you get the perfect shot!
After getting our breath back, we returned to the car and continued to Valle de la Muerte. With its different rock formations and dunes, and nearing the Cordilheira do Sal (Salt Mountain Range), Valle de la Muerte is one of Atacama’s main attractions.
On the background of the landscape, it’s possible to see Lincancabur, the vulcan that looks like a cone and is 5,916 meters high. It’s worth highlighting that, for whom it might interest, there are trekking tours through Valle de la Muerte and sandboard in the dunes of the area. There’s no shortage of adventure in that region.
After taking many pictures, we got back to the car and continued to the second part of the tour: Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley). Located inside a closed reserve, the entrance ticket is charged separately from the tour (it costs 2,000 Chilean pesos).
Valle de la Luna is made of salt rocks, totally designed by the erosion through time. The wind and the big temperature changes (overnight) gave the place a unique look.
Important to note: when I was about to get out of the car, Mike, our guide, warned me about my backpack, since we’d go through some ‘tight’ places. I didn’t think they would be THAT tight, and I carried it with me… so now I tell you: think twice before taking your backpack with you there!
The Valle de la Luna tour takes us inside the Cânion das Cuervas de Sal (Salt Curves Canyon), and the deeper you get into the canyon, the tighter the path becomes. We got to a point where we almost lay on the ground and crawled to move forward. If you have claustrophobia, you may not enjoy this part very much. Ah, and if your cellphone doesn’t have a flashlight, consider taking one with you to the tour.
That was a very rough part of the tour, but the fun didn’t end there. After venturing through Valle de la Luna, we returned to the car and got back on track to our final destination, where we’d watch the sunset.
On our way, we stopped to observe the Three Marys, a natural sculpture in the middle of the valley. I have to admit that you need a little imagination in order to see some Maria there. But before you try to look for the three of them, I tell you in advance that there are only two left now. According to Mike, a tourist climbed Mary I to take a picture and broke the poor thing… Mike joked it was a Brazilian tourist (but I’m not so sure it was just a joke, really).
From there we kept going on the car until we reached the base of a hill. We were going to watch the sunset from its top. Man, is that place high and difficult to climb! Seriously, I don’t know how I managed to climb that. But damn, was it worth it! The view from the top is astonishing. We can see the whole valley, the rock formations, the abstract curves in their different forms and colors, everything designed by the hands of nature.
The guys from the agency brought us a snack and we had a toast to the sunset with a glass of juice. The view looked like a dream… As the sun slid down, the sky changed its color. There are really no words to describe it…
And that’s how the first day of the ‘Open World through Atacama’ Expedition ended.
If you enjoyed the post or if you have any questions, leave a comment here
- The tour was made with Ayllu Expediciones Agency, I highly recommend it! Read more about agencies here.
- Wear proper trekking shoes. Some parts of the tour are very rough.
- Bring water, sunglasses and a jacket for the end of the day. When the sun sets, the temperature falls considerably.
- Remember to always wear sunscreen! If you have a cap/hat, I recommend wearing it, too.
- You might need a flashlight in the cave at Cuervas de Sal. Usually the one in your cellphone can do the job just as well.
- The price for this tour is 25,000 (tour) + 2,000 Chilean pesos (to get into Valle de la Luna (updated in 2015). If you get a package with several tours, you can get a discount.
- Book your accommodation in San Pedro de Atacama in advance! For accommodation options, click here.