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Being pretty much useless most of the time at sticking to a schedule and in true Jimmy Dau fashion, I managed to arrive just after the full moon from the Bolivian side of the border. The trip to the dunes is not far from San Pedro and the entire day can be done on rented bicycles. After the first run I spoke to the guide about the difficulty level as I thought we could go a little faster.
We have a bit of daylight left and the guide takes us to his personal favourite site to view the valley of the moon from.
The Atacama certainly surprised me even though I didn’t end up catching any clear views of the  milky way on this trip.
What to bring: A couple of litres of water, sunscreen, snacks for energy, a warm sweater as it will get cooler at sunset. Jimmy is gentleman in his thirties, currently putting career on hold to travel the world in search of the tastiest local food and taking photographs of people and places. We did see some folk peddling their way around but the heat plus as I would discover later, hiking up the dunes to board down would be overkill. It’s a steady 3-5min hike up the dune on an angle until you reach the ridge and then you hike another 5 minutes to keep going higher.

Turns out the it as the beginners level and that they only take tours to the other steeper and longer runs when the group is more experienced.
From the site where we park the van, it’s a 10 minute hike firstly up a steady slope and with the final 5 minutes up a pretty steep hill.
Off the high of the Salar de Uyuni tour, I didn’t think any more views of the desert could get any better, but I was wrong. Dorm rooms for US$15 were ok sized but got moved to another room without any warning because another group had booked.
Wear shorts as pants will get quite sandy and dirty and hiking boots to protect your ankles. The tour would start in the afternoon, followed by a tour of the Chulacao caves and canyons of Death Valley and then conclude with a view over the Valley Of The Moon on sunset. Whilst catching your breathe, you realise it’s well worth the effort as the views are stunning on each side of the dune ridge. As you look upwards then you can see the patterns that mark the sides of the valleys, like a multi-layered cake.
The changing temperature in the valley from daytime to dusk causes the salt crystals in the rock to expand and contract, resulting in the popping sounds.

This continent continues to surprise me when I think it when views like these couldn’t get any better. After checking the bus timetables to Salta, I discovered that they only left three times a week, meaning I only had two nights available in San Pedro unless if I wanted to stay an extra two nights until the following bus. The entire place is covered in salt and in some places the crystals are so densely packed that they change colour if you shine a torch close to them .
For the next thirty minutes, we take hundreds of photos as the setting sun continually painted the moon like landscape in a different tint every minute. As a result, the air is dry and at an altitude of 2,400metres, makes an excellent place for star gazing.

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