Chile’s Valley of the Moon *Video*

Valle de la Luna is located in Chile’s Cordillera de la Sal in the northern Atacama desert. Featuring sand and stone formations carved from the wind, it is known for its lunar-like landscapes. In fact, the prototype for the Mars Rover was tested here in the Valley of the Moon’s tough terrain.

Valley del la Luna is also the driest place on earth. Most years it rains only 2 days and year, although some parts of the desert haven’t seen a drop of rain in over 100 years.

During my tour of the desert, I got to visit 4 remarkable landmarks of natural beauty, full of color and textures:

1. Mountain Ranges

From this vantage point, you can see numerous high mountain ranges, including the:

  • Cordillera de Domeyko – Featuring the peak called Kimal (4,200+ meters above sea level).
  • Cordillera de la Sal (“Salt Mountain Chain”) – here you can see how movements of the earth’s crust has formed an accordion-like series of peaks.
  • Andes Range – Including the Puno Plateau, standing at a height of 4,700 meters, and a series of volcanoes, all over 5,000 meters above sea level.

2. Great Dune

A depression in the desert at only 2,300 meters above sea level, the Great Dune was created by fierce winds which helped force an accumulation of sand. This is considered the iconic Salar de Atacama.

3. Salt Mines

The salt crystal embedded in the rock cliffs is the result of high pressure and absence of humidity. (It’s dry here folks!) We crawled through this caverns to get a close-up view of the salt gems. The crawling was not helped by my inappropriate attire. Read: Gringa Get Ups.

4. Virgin Marias

Said to resemble the Virgin Mary in three different poses, these rock formations were formed by intense erosion of the gravel, clay, salt and quartz that comprise the terrain. They are thought to be more than 1 million years old.

Here’s a peek at the Three Marias:

Can’t see the video? Click on this link: Erin in Valley of the Moon

Missing the Moon?

Only a handful of us will ever be able to visit the moon, but most of us can visit the Valle de la Luna and appreciate the beautiful and rugged desert vistas.

So if you feel like you’re missing out on a trip to the moon, have no fear: Chile’s San Pedro de Atacama is waiting!

Interested in reading more about amazing landscapes? Check out:

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This entry was posted on Saturday, November 24th, 2012 and is filed under South America.

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