El Tatio Geysers

ihana.com - big trip - diary - chile - april 2003

The sun...

...goes down over El Tatio

Vicuñas take a warm drink

Its going to be good tomorrow

Wednesday 23 - Thursday 24 April

After returning to San Pedro to use the dodgy internet connection in the morning we headed north along a dirt road towards the famous geysers at El Tatio. As usual in these parts the terrain offered superb views although on this occassion the day was a little cloudy for the normal postcard quality snaps. The trusty landy smoked its way up the various inclines while the constantly thirsty passengers staved off the 4500m altitude effects.

Mud pool

Swimming pool

Geysers everywhere

Are these...

...views from a...


We were greeted by a couple of Chileno workers who were building a stone wall - a 'mirador' (lookout) for the tourists to stand behind. Apparently two tourists fell into the scalding waters last year and were burned to death, not good advertising for the Chilean holiday industry! Also already parked was a VW camper from Germany with a Munich registration plate. The friendly huns didn't come out to say hello when we arrived, as the latinos normally do. The lady did deign to poke her head out of the window after we knocked, just long enough to tell us how friendly they had found the Argentinian people, then she complained of a cold wind entering the car so said curtly - goodbye, slam!

Chuckling at the typical Bavarian attitude we set camp, then made use of the deserted hot swimming pool for a much needed wash. The tour groups from San Pedro arrive in the morning, shame for them that they miss the beautiful light changes of the sunset and the wild animals that come here to drink in the tranquil evenings.


Warm stream

Morning dawned cold as usual at this altitude but bright sunshine all the same, revealing the tour groups wandering about in the steam who set off at 4am to arrive here at daybreak. Among them were the 15 Brasilian bikers who we'd met on the Jama pass the day before, plus another Brasilian - this time a sexy professional photographer from Rio, who was a bit more interesting to talk to! Checking out the next part of the route with a bored tour van driver waiting for one of the groups, he told us at this time of year the geyser steam dosn't jet high into the air as the water table is quite low. Nevertheless its a great place to visit.

Unfortunately our Webasto pre-heater, which does the essential job of warming the engine coolant in these climes, decided to have a fit (which happens occassionally) and not work this morning. Luckily we had a handy supply of hot water to pour onto the block which just about did enough to get us started. Dosn't help that the glow plugs need replacing.

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