Yesterday I posted some brief thoughts and an introduction to the Atacama Desert, which was the destination on my recent trip to Chile. Today I wrote another article at Gadling.com about my visit to that place, this time turning my attention on one particular location, the Valle de la Luna or the Valley of the Moon.
Hiking through the Valle de la Luna, I couldn't help but think that the word "otherworldly" was invented for just such a place. It is a starkly beautiful landscape that will leave you wondering if you've somehow stepped off the Earth and onto some distant alien world. It is a place that is marked with strangely shaped rock formations, narrow, twisting canyons, and sand dunes that measure 40 meters in height. And yet, is is also a place of brilliant colors and a peaceful silence that is only experienced in the most remote places.
While the valley is indeed very beautiful to look at, it is probably that silence that I will remember the most. If you scrambled up on one of the rocks, and took a seat, unmoving and not talking, the entire area took on an overwhelming silence. It was so quiet that it could be a bit unnerving for some visitors, although I personally think most will find it very peaceful. That silence was, at times, broken by the sound of salt deposits, locked inside the rock walls, popping with the warmth of the sun. Those small "pops" served as a reminder that you haven't lost your hearing altogether, but it is just a characteristic of the place you're in to muffle all sound.
As I noted in the article at Gadling, the best time to visit the Valle de la Luna is in the evening, when the sun is going down. The light that bathes the entire area is simply spectacular, and it really brings out the reds, oranges, and pinks that naturally occur there. The valley is also a fantastic place to take in the night sky, which is unlike any I've seen in other parts of the world. With zero pollution, and no lights whatsoever, the sky is visible in all of its glory, and it is a sight to behold without a doubt.
I have a couple of more stories on the Atacama lined up for the next few days. There is so much to tell about the place that it is hard to simply break it down into a few hundred words. Needless to say, it has become one of the highlights of my travels, and it is a destination that I think any traveler would enjoy.
More to come!
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