Hot Moon Valley & Cool Stargazing in the Atacama Desert, Chile

Death Valley, Moon Valley” … ? It might not sound very enticing. Or does it? For me, a hike through Death Valley and the “canyon of salt” as well as the sunset over Moon Valley is one of the best recommendations of things to do while exploring the Atcama Desert. From my personal experience, the heat isn’t so bad after all (50°C in the sun, 30°C in the shade are “carried away” by strong winds), just make sure you carry enough water, wear the right clothing and have at least some level of fitness so as to enjoy the walk. I recommend you go with a (small) group such as those offered by Cosmo Andino, who make a point of staying away from the crowds and giving great commentary as well.

Here, I share with you my photo essay of walking the Death, Salt & Moon Valleys in the Atacama Desert of Chile:

Auf geht's in das Tal des Todes ...

Let’s go: Facing Death Valley …


Dank kürzlicher Regenfälle in der Wüste findet unser Guide David diese "Rica-Rica"-Pflanze, die sich beispielsweise gut als Ergänzung von Yerba Mate eignet.

David, our guide, explains to us the value of this “Rica-Rica” plant making great Mate, too.


"Desert Girl": Gute Kopfbedeckung und (keine!) Kontaktlinsen zu tragen, sind sehr wichtig bei einer Wüstenbegehung ... !

“Desert Girl”: Wearing a good head cover and no contact lenses, is absolutely vital when willing to enjoy a walk in the desert … !


Coole Sandboarder treffen wir ebenfalls auf unserem Weg durch die Wüste.

We get to watch cool sand boarders.


Der Blick auf die umliegende Landschaft fasziniert mich zu jeder Zeit: Hier die Cordillera de los Andes mit ihren typischen Vulkanbergen. Wow!

The view of the mighty Cordillera de los Andes is just so fascinating, with all the volcanoes “lined up” in view. Spectacular!


Auch die Wüste beeindruckt durch ihre unsägliche Schönheit ..

The desert has a unique sense of beauty …


Im "Salz-Canyon" erleben wir unter anderem diese spektakulären Felsformationen, die durch mineralische Ablagerungen entstanden sind ... wie Stalagmiten in einer Höhle, jedoch an der freien Luft!

In the “Salt Canyon”, we marvel at these “salt stalagmites” who have formed after scarce water drags the minerals to the surface.


Gebadet im Licht der untergehenden Sonne ... :)

Sun-kissed in the light of the evening sun … 🙂


Unser Guide David hat stets die passenden Erklärungen parat, erzählt uns über die Entstehung der Salzkristalle und dass er im Mondtal seine "erste spirituelle Erfahrung" hatte.

Our experienced guide David shares many a story with us, including his “first spiritual experience” when walking the Moon Valley at night-time.


Abends taucht die Sonne das Tal des Mondes dann in spektakuläre Farben ...

During the evening, the setting sun makes for a spectacular color display …


.. wie beispielsweise diese beiden Vulkanberge in zartem Rosarot ...

.. such as bathing these volcanoes in tender shades of pink and red …


... bevor "Inti" (Quechua für Sonne) sich ganz von uns verabschiedet und den Blick auf Jupiter und die Sterne freigibt.

… right before the sun god “Inti” bids us farewell, allowing Jupiter and the stars to greet us.


Stargazing in the Atacama Desert with local guide Jorge Corante: An absolute Must-Do!

After some initial stargazing experience at Gingin Observatory in Western Australia as well as my star gazing tour in Fiordland, New Zealand, I thought watching the stars in the Atacama desert might just be “the place to be” for its absolutely clear skies and next to no light pollution. Well, not only I thought so: Right next to San Pedro de Atacama, the “Large Satellite Array” has been inaugurated only this way, providing for the largest star observation facility in the entire world. However, as mentioned in my article about the “Altiplano” Lagoons, it is sometimes hard deciding which operator to go with. So I googled. And found Jorge Corante thanks to great Tripadvisor reviews, being no more than four days old. After writing to him and introducing my work as a travel blogger, he spontaneously offered to host me on a single tour including sending me these pictures of our experience. How cool! Very lucky I was to have found him.

So why Jorge? Besides being a true “Atacameno” and of direct descent of the local native tribes, he has an enormous knowledge about all things scientific & mystic about the stars and planets , explaining context and making me understand the night-time sky. His tours are offered in both Spanish and English, and he comes to take me out straight from my accommodation in San Pedro de Atacama. The tour lasts from about 21.00 – 24.00 h. Wonderful , Jorge: Well done!

Dieser Sternenhimmel begeistert und beeindruckt mich: Dank ausgeklügelter Teleskope nehmen wir Sterne und Planeten ganz genau unter die Lupe, es folgt eine genaue Erklärung über die Einteilung des Himmels, der Planeten und Gestirne. Spannend!

I love the night-time sky: These stars, Magellanic clouds, Southern Cross & others are just mesmerizing. Thank you for a wonderful experience! Photo: (c) Jorge Corante.


Da es nachts kühl wird, hilft ein wenig Tee zwischendurch: Jorge hat an alles gedacht ;)

The tour comes complete with (Mate) tea or coffee: Nice because it does get cold in the desert at night-time. Photo: (c) Jorge Corante.


Dieses lustige Foto entstand durch eine Kombination von Blitz und Langzeitbelichtung - und damit ihr wisst, mit wem ihr es zu tun habt, schreibt Jorge nochmal meinen Namen dazu ... ! Süßes Souvenir :)

This picture is a cute little souvenir from Jorge: Thank you once again for the amazing stargazing tour. Definitely recommend you try it on your visit to San Pedro de Atacama! Photo: (c) Jorge Corante.

Fancy more amazing impressions of the Atacama Desert? Check out my Flickr photo page and enjoy daydreaming over some of these images … !

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Bianca 26 July 2014 - 00:12

Hola Elena, do you have Jorge Corante’s e-mail for contact? I would like to make this stargazing tour, but his site is offline! 🙁

Thank you very much!

Elena 27 July 2014 - 09:12

Hola Bianca,

I do indeed! His email address is Hope to be able to help you there! The tour is amazing indeed, I am glad you found out about it here on my travel blog!

Cheers & best wishes,



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