While staying in San Pedro de Atacama, we also went on a day trip to the Geysers del Tatio. The geyser field is located approximately 100km from San Pedro in the Andes Mountains at an elevation of 4320m. There are apparently 80 active geysers at the site, but this must include some very tiny ones! This means it is the largest geyser field in the Southern Hemisphere and the 3rd largest in the world.
Our guide picked us up at our hostal at 5.30am and it took about 1 hour to reach the geyser field. A lot of other tours leave at 4.30am, which was a bit too early for us after all of our early morning starts on the Laguna Route! The aim is to be at the geyser field to watch the sunrise, as the geysers are most spectacular at this time, surrounded by steam clouds that condense in the freezing air. As the sun rises and the air warms, these steam clouds disappear. Departing San Pedro at 5.30am, we arrived just in time for sunrise and got an extra hour of sleep – bonus!
We spent a couple of hours at the geyser field, which in addition to the geysers, includes boiling springs, mud pots and a hot spring for swimming (more a “luke warm” spring). It was very cold at the geysers, but we were warm in our down jackets. Our guide prepared a wonderful breakfast for us, which we ate overlooking the hot springs. We weren’t tempted to peel off our warm jackets, but Mylene and Vincent braved the cold for a swim.
We didn’t have any trouble with the altitude, but a lot of other tourists do. Also, be careful around the geysers, apparently a number of tourists have fallen in and died!
The scenery on the way back was spectacular. We stopped for some birdwatching and visited the tiny mountain village of Machuca, where we hiked up to the cute local church and sampled llama kebabs – delicious!