A Visit to the Valley of the Moon: Valle de la Luna, Chile

While San Pedro de Atacama wasn’t really my cup of tea, the Valle de la Luna (also known as the Valley of the Moon) was absolutely breathtaking.

Literally breathtaking, if you consider all the sand swirling around – it was sometimes hard to breath.

Valle de la Luna, Chile

swirling sand, swirling hair: don’t care

The views are the real draw to Valle de la Luna, as they are straight up otherworldly. The landscape is SO alien that it came as no surprise that Valle de la Luna is often used as a surrogate setting for the testing of Mars rovers and other space vehicles. It actually looks like the surface of the moon. Or the weirdest desert I could ever imagine.

Valle de la Luna, Chile Valle de la Luna, Chile Valle de la Luna, Chile Valle de la Luna, Chile Valle de la Luna, Chile Valle de la Luna, Chile

The stone and sand formations of the strange location have been carved by wine and water, punctuated by seemingly random salty formations that look like modern art sculptures.

Aside from being one of the weirdest-looking places on Earth, Valle de la Luna is also one of the driest. Some areas of the desert haven’t received even a single drop of rain in hundreds and hundreds of years. The sun is INTENSE.

Valle de la Luna, Chile Valle de la Luna, Chile Valle de la Luna, Chile

The sunset was a total highlight and something not to be missed. As the sun sinks over the bleak horizon, the land is changed into a multitude of different colors: pinks, purples, red, until finally descending into darkness.

Valle de La Luna, Chile Valle de la Luna, Chile Sunset Valle de la Luna, Chile Sunset Valle de la Luna, Chile SunsetSan Pedro de Atacama Chile, Valle de La Luna Tour Steph Valle la Luna Chile

It is the ultimate place to sit in silence, in awe of the world’s glorious beauty, surprises, and mysteries.

Joy and Journey Guide to Visiting the Valley of the Moon:
Valle de La Luna, Chile

Valle de la Luna, Chile

If you’re staying in San Pedro de Atacama, chances are you’ll be visiting the Valle de La Luna via a guided tour.

Every tour operator (and there’s a LOT) offers the Valle de La Luna tour. Most tours offer a bilingual guide, but be sure to double check that you’re being assigned a guide that is English-speaking if your Spanish isn’t top-notch. We paid 10,000CHP per person along with a 3,000CHP entrance fee to the national park. The tour started at 4pm and ended at 8pm.

The sunset is absolutely amazing – and everyone knows it. The event is a bit crowded, so be sure to snag a seat on the edge as soon as you arrive.

Keep in mind: the temperature quickly changes from HOT HOT HOT to quite cold as soon as the sun sets, and it is VERY windy

Remember to bring:

Your camera. There will be so many amazing shots to capture. If you have one, definitely bring along your tripod (I use the GorillaPod) for the low light shots – including sunset – and selfies. If you don’t have a tripod, just try resting your camera on a big rock.

Sunscreen. The sun is super, super intense. I lathered on the sunblock and still had a bit of a burn.

Hiking shoes. We were told sandals were fine, but to be honest they weren’t. My flop flops were not comfortable for the hike, and hard to walk in the dusty sand (they also flip and flop the dust all over the place). Choose close-toed shoes.

Water. Bring your own big bottle, as there wasn’t any place for us to buy any, and I got THIRSTY!

Entrance fee money. Even if you aren’t the type to typically carry cash, you’ll need to pay the 3000CHP entrance fee.

A sweater or jacket. When the sun disappears, so does all the heat. It gets COLD!

Sunglasses. The climate is very windy and dust will be blowing everywhere. Aside from protection from the intense sun, you’ll also want the glasses to protect your eyes from dust.

Scarf. During the day you can hold the scarf against your mouth to keep dust particles from flying in, and at night you’ll be thankful for the warm neck.

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A Visit to Valley of the Moon: Valle De La Luna, Chile

A Visit to Valle de La Luna, Chile


A short vacation in Thailand turned into a life abroad with a canceled ticket home. Nearly a decade later and after living in Bangkok, Rio de Janeiro, Puebla, and Puerto Vallarta, Steph is on to her next adventure and living back in beautiful, cosmopolitan Mexico City. She is living, traveling, and working (both as an expat therapist and an international health insurance representative) around the world to find the beautiful, inspirational, and interesting while sharing it with you!

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  1. Maisie
    August 2, 2017 / 5:46 pm

    Thanks for this article! Just wondering what tour operator you chose to go with? Would you recommend them?


    • JoyAndJourney
      August 8, 2017 / 7:10 am

      I don’t remember the name of the operator, I’m sorry! He was located on a side street off the main square in San Pedro de Atacama. From what I’ve heard, though, there’s really one tour that all the different “middle men” send their clients to.

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