Commercial space travel is still out of reach for everyone but the richest of the rich. However, Chile’s “Valle de La Luna” (Spanish for “Valley of The Moon”) is as close to walking on the surface of the moon as you can get without actually leaving the planet.

Environmental Graffiti has an awesome post up with incredible pictures of this desolate valley. It really does look like a moonscape-the valley is barren of any plant life, and over the centuries the forces of nature have sculpted the rock and sand into fantastic, almost otherworldly formations.

The valley is situated in between the Andes mountains and the Atacama Desert, and immense, towering volcanoes rise up in the background, providing a suitably “lunar” backdrop for the valley. Dry lakebeds are coated in shimmering salt crystals. The most interesting and famous landforms in the Valley of the Moon are three vaguely humanoid rock towers called the Three Marias.

If you want to visit the Valley of the Moon, you’ll need a US passport to travel to Chile.  When you apply for your passport, make sure to allow enough time for the government to process your application.

If you apply through the mail with regular processing, expect it to take at least 6 weeks for your US passport to make it back to you.  To get it faster, you can request expedited processing from the government and pay an extra $60 to State Department. However, you still allow at least a month for your passport to arrive.

Find a last-minute travel deal that you don’t want to pass up?  A private passport expediting company like can help you get your US passport more quickly.  We help you with the application, provide you with a checklist that helps you avoid common mistakes, and then submit your application directly to the Department of State by hand, resulting in processing times as low as 24 hours.

Apply for your US passport today!