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    South by South America Tour – Chile Part 26

    Sunday, September 15, 2019
    San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

    Walking through a crevice in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    Walking through a crevice in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    A snack breakfast in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A snack breakfast in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    Starting our hour-long walk through the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    Starting our hour-long walk through the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    Rough hewn red and green slabs in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    Rough hewn red and green slabs in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    Jagged spires in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    Jagged spires in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    Tourists pose in front of rainbow-hued rocks in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    Tourists pose in front of rainbow-hued rocks in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    My fourth and final tour around the San Pedro de Atacama area was a half-day affair called Valle de Arcoiris (Rainbow Valley), so named for its spectacular muted psychedelic rock formations. After getting picked up a little bit after 8:00 am by the Lithium Aventura tour van, we got whisked to the Rio Grande basin, maybe 60 miles outside of San Pedro de Atacama into the desert. Our first stop was to investigate some fascinating and scenic crevices carved by water into huge slabs of rock. This spot included some fun, small rock climbing situations on the paths within the crevices. After 40 minutes, we had breakfast. The tour guide, Alan, asked me not to start eating before everyone else. Then, not more than 30 seconds later, he gave everyone else the okay to start chowing down, which I thought was pretty funny.

    Spectacular green and orange rock formations in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    Spectacular green and orange rock formations in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    A person sits perched on an overhang in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A person sits perched on an overhang in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    A carving of a llama on a rock wall in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A carving of a llama on a rock wall in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    The Lithium Aventura tour guide Alan explains the history of the geology and rock carvings in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    The Lithium Aventura tour guide Alan explains the history of the geology and rock carvings in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    More llama carvings in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    More llama carvings in the Valle de Arcoiris, near San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    A mural in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.
    A mural in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile.

    Next, we went on an hour-long stroll through the Rainbow Valley itself, passing by colorful cliffs, domes and other kinds of rock formations. Many of these rocks were colored in spectacular fashion with multiple muted hues, ranging from brown to pink to red to green, all thanks to the oxidation of minerals like cobalt, copper, gypsum and salt. Pausing for photo ops on a stage-like protuberance, we then made our way back out to the waiting van. Our second and final stop of the day was at a nearby rock formation bearing carvings dating from 1,000 years ago, hewn by indigenous people and featuring images of a fox, a llama, some shamans and much more. Although brandishing a quite serious demeanor, the tour guide, Alan, did a good job of explaining everything in Spanish and English. After maybe an hour there, we all piled back into the van and got dumped out back in San Pedro.

    Words and photos ©2019 Arcane Candy.

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