Not a single drop of water has fallen onto the Moon Valley in hundreds of years, thus the wind-sculpted salt statues inhabiting its eerie bowl have continued their slow, centuries-old dance uninterrupted. Come moonrise, when valley's light dusting of salt and metallic minerals shimmers all around, you may well see them move.
The awesome spectacle is one of the most popular excursions from San Pedro de Atacama, and at sunset the sand dunes can be covered with tourists, all enchanted by the quality of light. Fewer people visit in the morning, so sunrise may be a more tranquil experience.
Moon Valley is located 17 km (11 mi) west of San Pedro de Atacama, an old mining town that has only recently become a busy tourist destination. In addition to the Valle de la Luna, it is also a convenient base for visiting Atacama Salt Lake, Licancabur Volcano, El Tatio geysers, and many other natural wonders.
The town itself is remarkable for its age, inhabited for at least 10,000 years and considered Chile's most important archaeological treasure, with museums and sites worth visiting.
The small airport has regular flights to Santiago and elsewhere in the region, and buses connect the town to Calama, Antofagasta, San Salvador de Jujuy (Argentina), and Uyuni (Bolivia). Many multiple-day tours offer transport between Uyuni as well. You can rent cars in town.