September 28, 2015
The second tour of the day, Moon Valley, Valle de la Luna, is another popular attraction out of San Pedro de Atacama. This tour is generally done at sunset, although I imagine the setting is equally impressive in the early morning light.
We had booked a private tour with the Hotel Kimal. Having your own guide is nice, but unless you have special requirements I don’t know that it justifies the higher price. We paid a total of $380USD for both the morning tour to the Tatio Geysers and the afternoon tour to Moon Valley, compared to $140USD for the following day’s all day group tour to Salar de Tara.
Our guide, Sergio, was waiting for us at the hotel at the appointed 4:30PM departure time. A sportive type who does freelance multiday-mountain treks, Sergio spoke good English and was an energetic and fun guide with intimate knowledge of the surrounding volcanos. The vehicle again was the 4×4 Toyota Hilux.
The valley is about a 30 minute drive outside of town. While dramatic and colorful, it’s not that extensive and is greatly restricted as to where tourists are allowed to walk.
We started with a drive through the valley to the furthest location; the Tres Marias, windblown “statues” of a sort.
We then drive back through the valley (you aren’t really allowed to park along this section, but Sergio stops briefly so I could take a picture) to a location where we can take a short walk up to a viewpoint.
The trail passes a large sand dune that is currently off limits to tourists.
Although there are number of tour groups on the trail you can still find isolated viewpoints. Sergio doesn’t rush us and allows us to explore a bit before heading back to the truck.
Next we drive to a view point above Death Valley, Valle de la Muerte. The sun is already beginning to descend casting a shadow across the valley.
The final stop is sundowners above Moon Valley. We reach the viewpoint a little ahead of the crowds. Sergio unpacks a choice of wine or juice with chips and skewers of cheese and salami.
We enjoy a quiet moment in the late evening light before the masses arrive, but arrive they do.
The point is also known for the hanging rock above the valley.
Pretty, but on a clear night without any clouds the sunset was not that interesting.