Art Lessons at Las Tres Marias, Atacama Desert, Chile

Las tres marias Chile BookmarksandWaypoints In Moon Valley in the Atacama Desert in Chile, there stands a natural rock formation known as Las Tres Marias. Sounds super mysterious, right?

We never aimed to visit that specific site. Truth be told, we didn’t even know of its existence until our Tour guide decided to stop there for a few minutes – our tour was generally described as Moon Valley & Death Valley and I had read the standard spiel – that the Desert most closely resembles the terrain of Mars, it’s the driest non-polar spot on earth, and NASA actually uses the desert to test their Mars related equipment.


I’m definitely going to gush about Moon Valley & Death Valley in a future post because it was an otherworldly experience, but today I want to gush about the particular Tres Marias formation. Arguably one of the most extra-terrestrial images in an a location already putting out seriously Mars-centric vibes, the formation is known as the “Three Marias” or “Los Vigilantes” because their shapes supposedly depict images of the Virgin Mary in three different poses. Found at one of the entrances of Moon Valley, it is said that the formations are over 1 million years old and are made up of striated quartz and granite.



While everything was described to us during the tour, I wasn’t sure if I mixed up the descriptions and didn’t want to write the wrong thing. Special thanks to Chile Travel who helped clarify it for me. The center formation, to the discerning eye is reminiscent of a semi-sideways-standing Mary with her hands clasped toward the sky (and not Groot as some uncultured unnamed blogger may have initially seen). The other two formations are both meant to depict Many kneeling and praying. It has been said that the formation on the left is meant to depict Mary holding the Baby Jesus . The right formation was unfortunately destroyed by an ignorant and overzealous tourist a few years back who tried to climb on the formation to take a photo. Ugh. Gives travel nerds like us a bad name. Prior to this, the area wasn’t actually cordoned off and you could go right up to the formations. Now there are little signs all over saying “No pasar”. This is why we can’t have nice things.

There’s also a random formation a little ways off from the Tres Marias which has been said to be a T-Rex or a rabbit…I kind of see it, I guess?


So what do you think? Can you see the T-Rex? The Three (two) Marys? Or are you Groot?

I wrote most of this post a while ago but couldn’t figure out way to gracefully end this post, but once again, Chile Travel to the rescue! They reminded me of one of the fundamentals of appreciating art, whether it is a natural formation or man-made: “You won’t be writing down false information. What you see and feel is what is real.” A pretty wonderful sentiment and a good way to end this post.

Have a wonderful weekend and hope you come across some great art!

2 thoughts on “Art Lessons at Las Tres Marias, Atacama Desert, Chile

  1. Wow! I never knew Chile was this beautiful! Thanks for sharing the wonderful pics. I have wanderlust too and hope to travel the world someday.

    1. Thank you! I have a few more Chile posts – I couldn’t fit all that beauty into one post :).

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