A bustling Andean metropolis of thousands of cars, dozens of high-rise buildings and nearly two-million people, visitors to Bolivia’s Valle de la Luna are shocked to find a massively-eroded desert moonscape located only six miles from the urban city center of La Paz.
Wind and rain have taken their toll on the soft clay formations outside the south end of the city, and the result is a canyon full of hoodoos and stalagmite-shaped formations that crawl up the canyon walls and create an otherworldly scene just minutes from the bustle of downtown. The road to Valle de La Luna follows the canyon carved by the Rio Choqueyapu, and passes natural cactus clusters which are home to over 30 different species of cacti. Arid, windswept and dramatically eroded, the entrance to Valle de La Luna is a surreal landscape set silently on the outskirts of chaos.
Many private tours in La Paz run day trips out to Valle de La Luna, although since wandering the trail among the eroded formations takes only an hour, it’s best to combine Valle de La Luna with another day-trip heading further afield. Or, given the weird combination of South Dakota’s Badlands meeting the red rock pinnacles of Bryce Canyon National Park, a foray down to Valle de La Luna is a unique way to simply kill a couple of hours in the highest capital city in the world.