Valle de la Luna Natural Sanctuary
Valle de la Luna Nature Sanctuary
This is a hollow surrounded by the Orbate Hill, in the middle of the Cordillera de la Sal ("Salt Cordillera") and right on the edge of the Atacama salt mine. It is a geological spectacle of surprising beauty. At an altitude above sea level of 2,550 meters, this formation was created by the buckling of the Earth's crust, which at this place is formed by sedimentary rocks with interspersions of salt, gypsum, chlorate, borate and outcrops of clay.
The action of the wind and of other atmospheric agents has carved out sculptures with sharp ridges, outcrops and hollows from the natural rock, creating a landscape of fantasy. The lack of humidity and concomitant absence of animal and vegetable life make this the most inhospitable corner of the Earth.
It was declared a Nature Reserve in 1982.
A late afternoon visit is recommended to view the sunset and admire the contrasting colors of a peerless landscape.
It is located 15 kilometers west of San Pedro de Atacama.
Activities which are possible to do:
- Bicycle tourism, rides on traditional model bicycles, along specially constructed pathways. One day's ride: 200 to 300 km. from one city to another along asphalt highways. Stage riding: paved roads are alternated with mountain track stretches. "Bici cross": A bicycle ride along obstacle-ridden terrain. In competitions, cyclists have to complete a 2 km stretch several times, pedaling or running on foot with their bikes on their shoulders.
- Free climbing, consisting of mountain climbing sheer walls using only one's hands and feet, protected by a rope harness.
- Speleology, consisting of the exploring of the inner formations of caves, caverns, galleries and underground lakes.
- Photography, interior and exterior views shot at authorized places.
- Sandboarding, sledding on sandy surfaces with special boards.