Valle de Marte and Valle de la Luna

The day of our first tour in San Pedro de Atacama had finally arrived… we were heading to Valle de Marte and Valle de la Luna with Cosmo Andino (a tour company!) ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚

We might have missed out last time we were in San Pedro, but this time we had pre-booked ALL of our tours and were raring to go!!!

Our first tour was an afternoon tour… no we were not procrastinating, and putting off the early morning starts – as most tours from San Pedro start VERY early… before the crack of dawn even – we were merely making sure we were ‘acclimatised’ to the altitude before getting up early and heading off into the dizzy heights of Chile’s altiplano

The first stop on our tour was Valle de Marte… known in English as ‘Valley of the dead‘ why this is, I’m not quite sure… Valle de Marte translates as Mars Valley! Muerte is the spanish word for dead! Confused? Yep, so were we!!! ๐Ÿ˜‰

Regardless of its name… Valle de Marte was extremely impressive… the scenery was spectacular – the landscape did look a little Mars-like ๐Ÿ™‚ – plus there were views back to San Pedro and its backdrop of volcanoes, in fact from the top you could see for what felt like miles around ๐Ÿ™‚

Valle de Marte.
Check out the view of the Pukarรก de Quitor in the distance…

While we were at the top taking in the views, our minibus vanished (please don’t be worried – we didn’t pick a dodgy tour company – they were very professional…this was in factย a planned part of the tour… ๐Ÿ™‚ )ย  AND after some more strolling along the rim of the valley we could even see our minibus on the road beneath us… it hadn’t vanished after all…

It’s a long way down to our minibus!

In fact, all that stood between us and the minibus – and therefore the Valle de la Luna and the beautiful sunset that had been promised to us – was a couple of sand dunes!!!! WOO HOO… running down sand dunes… PB could hardly contain his excitement…

CC and PB get ready to tackle the sand dune… PB is obviously quite excited ๐Ÿ™‚

There was time for one more look at the view…

Check out the view…

We also got to say ‘hello’ toย Voldemort from Harry Potter?!?

Who knew Voldemort was on holiday in San Pedro at the same time as us?

It was then time to RUN…. No one seemed to want to go first… so off I went… being an amateur at sand dune running I was soon overtaken by PB – as a more experienced sand dune runner he easily out ran me, and most of the others on the tour…ย  We were however two of the first to reach the halfway point…

CC has made it down the first sand dune… and is impressed by the view…
PB enjoys the midway scenery as he waits for the rest of the group ๐Ÿ™‚
There’s still, however, a little bit of sand between us and the minibus!

What can I say? Running down the second dune was even more fun than the first ๐Ÿ™‚ ๐Ÿ™‚ย  I’m not saying my technique was great by the second dune… but it was certainly better than on the first dune!!! If only there had been a third dune… I would have liked to do it all again, but no such luck – the sun was quickly setting and the Valle de la Luna was calling!

Valle de la Luna was just a short drive away and we managed to enjoy a couple of quick photo stops and a short walk in the Valle de la Luna park near the old Victoria Salt Mine, before we headed to the Duna Mayor to find the perfect spot to watch the sunset.

Valle de la Luna
This is La mina de Sal Victoria – one of the old salt mines in Valle de La Luna – when the land was acquired by the state in 1981, salt production stopped and it became a national park.
More scenery in Valle de la Luna
The sun is getting lower in the sky, so the walk is on to find the perfect spot to watch it set and light up the sky ๐Ÿ™‚
We’ve come to a popular spot to watch the sunset… we are definitely NOT alone!!!
However, we keep walking along the ridge to leave the crowds behind…
Check out the view from the ridge ๐Ÿ™‚
PB is happy as he’s found a quietish spot with a good place to sit ๐Ÿ™‚
CC and PB have watched the sunset and are waiting for the colours to come..
YAY… the colours after the sunset are starting ๐Ÿ™‚
The sun has set over Valle de la Luna ๐Ÿ™‚
Scenery and sunset colours ๐Ÿ™‚
It’s time for the long walk back to the minibus…

We really enjoyed this tour… the sand dunes and sunset far exceeded our expectations… all we needed now was a good night’s sleep so we could enjoy the next days’ tour!!!

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