Chile 2012: Atacama Desert, Day 2

by | Apr 4, 2012 | International Travel, Travel

As mentioned previously, we had a quick glimpse of the Valle de la Muerte on day 1 and were excited to hike into it on day 2. Once again we lucked out and had this tour to ourselves. We started with a short hike up to the top of the cliffs that ring the valley.

entering the Valle de la Muerte

The views from the top of the cliff were spectacular and we continued to enjoy them as we hiked around the valley.

flowers in the desert

Along the way we discovered several small plants in bloom, a rare event in this part of the desert. Even though there weren’t any other plants within hundreds of yards butterflies had already found it.

large dune in Valle de la Muerte

On the other side of the valley we met these massive sand hills formed by the wind pushing sand over the edge of the cliff. It was the quickest route to the bottom so off we went…

dune hiking

Our shoes were quickly filled by the soft sand, but the views more than made up for the inconvenience. Plus, our were the only footprints on this dune.

red peaks in Valle de la Muerte

After about 15 minutes the dune leveled out we hiked past this rock outcrop on the way out of the valley. Shortly after we met up with our excursion truck where we had water and snacks waiting in the shade.

On our return to the resort we were quite happy to have an outdoor shower option as our shoes and legs were covered in sand. Following a quick rinse and lunch we relaxed in anticipation of our afternoon hike.

Guatin / Gatchi
This river gorge results from the combination of two streams, one cool and the other from a hot spring. Due to the water supply it is unusually lush, even more so with the rain they had recently.

the start of the two-hour hike
our starting point

desert landscape

Plant life changes dramatically depending on the vertical distance from the river, the rock type, and side of the canyon (one side receives more sunlight).


This afternoon turned out to be one of the hottest of their summer, so the spray off this small waterfall was quite refreshing.

cacti everywhere

Leandra wore her Keen sandals on this hike, so she quickly learned to watch her step for these tricky little cacti.

flowers in the gorge
blooms in the desert

leaving the gorge
our hike out of the canyon

You definitely want water and sun protection as the elements are fierce even in the later afternoon. We were quite glad we chose this as our second excursion of the day, and even happier that we made it through the day without any sunburns!

Our Itinerary

2024 Trips

San Diego, CA (Jan)
Sarasota, FL (Feb)
Madrid, Spain (Mar)
Valencia, Spain (Mar+Apr)
Palma, Mallorca (Apr)
Croatia (May)
Faroe Islands (Aug)
London, UK (Sept)
Bari, Italy (Sept)
Rome, Italy (Oct)
Frankfurt, Germany (Oct)

2022 Trips

Florida (Feb)
NC Mountains (Apr)
Washington DC (Apr)
Valencia, Spain (May)
Hilton Head, SC (May)
Pacific NW (Jun)
Long Island (Jul)
Florida (Sept)
Chicago (Sept)
Poland (Sept)
NC Mountains (Nov)
Euro Xmas Markets (Dec)