Mars Valley / Valle de la Marte {San Pedro de Atacama}

Mars Valley / Valle de la Marte {San Pedro de Atacama}

Valle de la Marte {San Pedro de Atacama}

  • Distance – 3 km and up – as little or as much as you want to make it!
  • Elevation – minimal
  • Difficulty – Easy
  • Trailhead LocationValle de la Marte ticket office

Mars Valley or otherwise known as Valle de la Marte in San Pedro de Atacama is extremely easy to find.

It is the getting to San Pedro de Atacama that can be a bit complex, but then again most people probably won’t find themselves in the Santiago airport without seats on a plane even though they paid for them. Let’s just say, this very white woman put all her Spanish skills to use in order to force her way on the plane to Calama from Santiago. The miners who also found themselves having paid for tickets but bumped off the plane and in line behind me didn’t know I spoke Spanish and their commentary about me was less than flattering.

  • When a woman needs to get to Calama and there are no rental cars left, she does what she needs to do!

Valle de la Marte was our first stop as soon as we were settled into our Airbnb and had some breakfast in our bellies after arriving in San Pedro de Atacama the morning after our flight fiasco in Santiago.

The drive from Calama to San Pedro is on a great highway and the views are quite nice. It was a calm and smooth ride until you arrive at San Pedro de Atacama. Suddenly the pavement ends and you find yourself in a western. The roads are dried mud, the houses adobe, and the dogs homeless. Bumping over dried flash floods, we found our way to the adobe compound we were going to call home for the next few days. Luckily behind the adobe, there is modernity complete with great food, espresso machines, lovely homes, and wonderful hosts. After getting all the instructions about what to do when the electricity turns off and how to access the house when there is no power, we were on our way to adventure.

Valle de la Marte San Pedro de Atacama

There is something about the desert that is simply stunning. I live in the subarctic, snowy mountains and green things fill my every day. To go to a place that is void of plants and rich with sand, red rock, and unbelievable landscapes to hike over is a treat for my eyes and feet.

Valle de la Marte is actually before the town of San Pedro de Atacama on the highway from Calama.

2.5 km west of San Pedro de Atacama on Ruta 23, you will find the entrance for Valle de la Marte on the north side of the highway (turn right if you are coming from town). Simply pay the entrance fee of a few dollars and you have access for the day.

Bumping along the dried mud and sandy roads, you find yourself in the midst of some of the most amazing rock formations and sand dunes in the area. A few parking areas scatter the area; from these parking areas, you can stop and hike around for as much or as little as you like. There are a few formal trails, but the signage and organization is low.

Valle de la Marte San Pedro de Atacama
Those volcanoes!

We ran into an issue with our rental car and the road which disintegrated from dried flash flood to a sandy beach; our little car didn’t have enough guts to get through the deep sand while going uphill.

  • This meant that we could only see half the area, but the area that we did goof around in was beautiful!

Remember to bring water, apply A LOT of sunscreen, rent a 4×4, and be prepared to have sand in your shoes.

If you find yourself in the Atacama, save a few hours to do this park!

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