February 28, 2009

Chile Atacama Valley of the Moon

Our local guide Oscar led us on an excursion to the Valley of the Moon. Our first stop was a look-out over the Valley. So glad we didn't have to ride up on bicycle!

Chile has 150 active volcanoes, 10% of the world’s active volcanoes. We walked over dove gray volcanic ash trails while Oscar carefully described some of the history of political conflict between Chile and its neighbors Bolivia, Peru, and Argentina. Past Chilean regimes put protective land mines along the border. After a few earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and floods, no one can be completely sure where these land mines now lay. Thus, some of the mountains along the border can only be safely climbed from the Bolivian side.
Near sunset, we clambered up a steep sand dune. I hiked along an undulating ridge while Teresa climbed up to the highest viewing point. As with many of the natural sights we were to see throughout Chile, it was difficult to describe and difficult to capture in photos. Sometimes, you just have to go and see the 360 degree vistas for yourself!

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