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Trip Report It Never Rains In ….

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Having spent a good portion of my life in Southern California where I was often reminded that “It never rains..”, I leave home to visit one of, if not the driest places on the planet.

On board American Airlines I am reminded that for me flying will always be “Something Special In The Air”. En route I enjoy their inflight services and the views of Chile as we make our arrival descent.

In Santiago I make a connection flight on LAN but not before being entertained as LAN employees join in Chile independence celebrations.

About two hours after lifting off from Santiago International Airport, I touch down at the entry point for most who come to visit the place that will definitely challenge “The Beach Boys” and their notion of Southern California.


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    A Valle De Luna

    From Calama Airport I set out in a rented Toyota 4x4 for San Pedro de Atacama about 70 miles away. My drive towards San Pedro covers some of the same areas that I had previously flown over less than an hour ago.

    One site that peaked my interest from a few thousand feet above the earth turns about to be a memorial dedicated to 26 people executed here in 1973.

    A brief stop and I am again driving across a desert landscape under clear blue skies. Although mostly barren the scenery with rolling hills and distant mountains is still enjoyable.

    A sign for Valle de Luna and I find myself going down a dirt road where I am soon approached by a cloud of dust which turns out to be a group of vehicles heading in the opposite direction. The first car stops abeam me and the driver says something to me. My “no hablo espanol muy bien” starts him speaking a language that I understand.

    Turns out they have been looking for Valle de Luna but without any luck. Further conversation and a group of us decide to give it a try together.

    Parked at the beginning of a blocked off road, we lock our cars and I start hiking with a couple on vacation here from the southern part of Chile. Immediately I feel fortunate to have met them as they give me some history and tips of the area and their home country.

    About twenty minutes of hiking and we arrive at the destination that we have been seeking. From talking with a local we discover we have come up the back entrance to Valle de Luna. This entrance is closed to cars this time of the year because it has the potential to develop sink holes.

    We spend some time enjoying the “moon like” scenery with unique formations like “Tres Marias” then leave to watch the sunset from another area of Valle de Luna.

    I watch from the ledge of a “Grand Canyon” type rim as the sun heads west and brushes the landscape with all shades of orange. One of the more beautiful sunsets that I have ever seen.


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