Jason wasn´t feeling well and his knee is a little sore so I signed up for a tour of the Valle de Luna for my last evening in Atacama. The Valle de Luna is one of the driest places on earth, and erosion from wind and water that make unique geographic features in this area within the desert. In addition to this, there is water that comes from the Andes but evaporates in the hot dry desert, leaving a large salt plain. Being the budget travelers we are, I went with the cheapest tour available which also meant I was the only non-native Spanish speaker. Luckily this tour is all about the views and features so I didn’t feel like I missed out on much.
Our first stop was at a look-out point of the Andes and some of the desert features. From there we drove a little further and went on a short hike in the desert. It was an easy downhill hike with some pretty scenery and views.
At the next stop our guide asked if anyone was claustrophobic and when everyone said
no he led us into a cavern which continued to get narrower and narrower until we ended up in a cave which had a lot of crystals on the ceiling from all the salt in the area. At this point we all thought we had to turn around and go back, but no, the guide pulls out a flashlight and shines it on a narrow tunnel that we get to walk/crawl through next. We spend the next 10 minutes walking in this dark cave and multiple times had to wait for the guide to show us where to go next before we could move on. I may not be claustrophobic but I had a few moments in the cave when I was practically crawling under a rock overhang that continued into darkness that I had some second thoughts about that. But in the end it was an exhilarating experience and I am glad I got to do it.
We stopped at a few more features before coming to a large sand dune that we had to hike up so we could watch the sunset. After all my hiking in Peru I was able to power up it with no problems and walked around the top looking at the views before settling in for the sunset. Everything turned shades of red and orange as the sun went down giving us all some fantastic views of the Andes and of the Valle de Luna.