What to see in Chile
Valley of the Moon
Tourist attractions Valley of the Moon
If you’re headed to Chile’s Atacama Desert, there’s a high chance you’ll be visiting the otherworldly Valley of the Moon, part of the Cordillera de la Sal. One of the most visited places in Northern Chile, a trip to the Valley of the Moon will make you feel as though you’ve stepped foot on another planet! Situated around 13 kilometres west of the desert town of San Pedro de Atacama, the lunar landscape of this valley is due to its unique rock formations, formed by millennia of wind and water erosion. Dried-up salt lakes, craggy rock faces and strange geological formations combine to create a landscape like no other. Located in one of the driest places on earth, the forbidding terrain of the Valley of the Moon has to be seen to be believed!
If you travel to the Valley of the Moon it is interesting to note that this unique landscape is the result of the meeting of the Atacama Desert and the foothills of the Andes mountain range. This produced the characteristic cone-shaped slopes and rocky surface that combine to mimic the appearance of the surface of the moon. The valley measures 500-metres in diameter and it is considered one of the most inhospitable destinations on earth, having existed for at least 22 million years!
A designated natural sanctuary, visiting the Valley of the Moon is the chance to contemplate a true desert wilderness, free from flora, fauna and water. Time seems to stand still here, and guided tours to the Valley of the Moon are the best way to experience this breathtaking wonder of nature. You can visit the Valley of the Moon at any time of year, as the climate remains steady no matter the month. Possessing a desert climate, with cool nights and warmer days, the area rarely receives rainfall.
Things to see in the Valley of the Moon
Of course, the best thing to do at the Valley of the Moon is to simply take in the unique landscapes and snap some one-of-a-kind photos, but there are also a handful of natural sights worth factoring into your itinerary. The salt caves of Cuevas de Sal Cañon are a must-see. Hidden inside of rust-coloured rock peaks, these caves are known for their glistening salt crystals. Keep in mind the tunnel system within these caves is quite narrow, but exploring the depths of these ancient rocks is a one-of-a-kind experience!
No trip to the Valley of the Moon in Chile would be complete without seeing the famous Las Tres Marías salt sculptures. Shaped by wind and water erosion into human-like shapes, these three natural rock formations are one of the best things to see in the Valley of the Moon.
For the best views of the Valley of the Moon, be sure to climb to the top of the Great Dune, an enormous mountain of sand. It’s also one of the top spots for watching the sunset, a popular highlight of excursions to the Valley of the Moon. In fact, nothing beats the experience of viewing this otherworldly landscape at dusk, when the salt deposits twinkle in the moonlight and the rocks cast strange silhouettes across the landscape.