Visiting Chile’s Atacama Desert with Kids
If you think the driest place on earth is not fit for a baby, you’re probably right. Between the elevation, the heat, the cold, and the sheer vastness of this desolate place, anything can happen. But we were already in Chile, and we’re not going to be coming back for a while so we decided to make the most of it. We went during shoulder season, so the weather was pretty great. We already live at elevation, so that wasn’t an issue, and frankly the climate was pretty close to what we’re used to in Colorado; sun, heat, and 0% humidity 😂
Nonetheless, there were definitely some sites that are NOT fit for baby; the Geysers, the Altiplano lakes, and any of the sites at over 4000m elevation. We avoided those and still had plenty of things to do for 4 days.
Valle De la Luna
This is an easy drive from San Pedro (10-15mins) and opens at 9am. The most frustrating thing is that you can’t enter this for sunrise (as we found out after getting both girls ready and out the door in the dark IN TIME FOR SUNRISE) and the latest you can enter is 1pm. So you can’t even drive here for sunset. After 1pm only tour buses are allowed to enter.
There are a few hikes here, and you can do as many or as little as you like. We only did the Gran Duna hike, and drove to some of the other viewpoints.
The hike is an easy 1hr up the ridge (2hrs roundtrip) but you can turn around and walk back at any point once you’re on top of the ridge. Unless you forget your drone’s remote controller in the car 🤦. Then you have to do the hike twice! Danny had the honour of doing the extra workout, while I stayed at the top with Toddler and sleeping Baby. Toddler also decided this was the best time to potty, so I had to manoeuvre that while keeping baby asleep in the carrier. The skills I’ve gained on this trip!
Valle de la Muerte / Mars Valley
This is also an easy drive from San Pedro (~10 mins) and was probably the highlight of our stay here! The tours actually don’t allow you to bring a baby here because .. sand?.. but we’ve been to dunes before with Baby so we decided to check it out.
Turns out tours just don’t want to deal with pulling toddlers AWAY from the dunes 😂Our Toddler was SCREAMING because she didn’t want to go home and wanted to keep playing on the sand dune.
The hike here was a little tougher than Valle de La Luna, but only because the wind was incredibly strong. I couldn’t open my eyes at one point!
Once you get to the top, you get a glorious view of the terrain. This terrain was used to test the Mars Rover because it was the most similar to Mars!
After emptying our shoes of all the sand we collected in the Valles, we set out to look for some water.
Next Up: The Lagunas of Atacama