By Marion Bunnik
It is 4.30am and our alarm has just woken us up. Wow, that is ever so early, but the best time of the day to see the Tatio Geysers is early morning when the geysers spray the majority of their hot water.
It is really freezing so early especially at the altitude we were heading for – 4200m. The journey to Tatio Geysers is just so beautiful with high mountains and some snow and ice. The view of the geysers spitting their hot water could be seen from a distance, just so amazing. We were early and seem to have been ahead of the other tourists, making for wonderful photo opportunities.
There is a pool of approximately 37°C where it is possible to enjoy a quick soak; however being in your bathers at -12°C is something different and less attractive. Although, at sunrise there are many young tourists braving the freezing cold and going into the pool! The water of the other geysers is 85°C apart from the small pool.
The cold didn’t stop us from walking around these magnificent and wonderful sights! How truly amazing it was to be here at Tatio Geysers, even with our fingers frozen and with all our layers of clothing we still felt the -12°C, have our hot Adelaide summers made us feel the cold more, we wondered?! Our driver had prepared breakfast for us and we were able to warm our frozen hands on hot cups of coffee.
It is not possible to get to close to the geysers; all the geyser pools have safety fences to protect tourists from the 85°C water (ever since someone got a little too close and fell in). After we finished exploring the Tatio Geysers, we began our journey back to San Pedro de Atacama, now that the sun had risen we could fully appreciate this beautiful area. We stopped in a small village to see the old church and admire the tall cactuses growing in the area. This was once a mining area but the Government has now made it a National Park and luckily all mining has stopped. The mountains are full of golden bushes intertwined with green as there is more rain here and natural springs in the area. These are food for the vicuñas that live in this area and we were lucky to see a family group with one male and often 4 or 5 females. There was also a cute little baby vicuña! Such a wonderful morning which seemed to last as we started so very early. By the time we returned to our hotel we were ready for an early lunch and then it was siesta time before our afternoon sightseeing!
If you would like to explore the Tatio Geysers for yourself, you can on our Atacama Desert Tour Extension. Click here for details!