When visiting the quaint and picturesque town of San Pedro de Atacama, travelers make certain that they visit the El Tatio Geysers, which is a large geothermal field in within the Andes Mountain range in northern Chile. If you are flying in to Calama, the El Tatio geysers will fall at a distance of 145 km, which is more than the distance from San Pedro de Atacama, as the latter is only 30 km from it. A trip to the El Tatio geyser is a special excursion that starts way before dawn. This is due to the fact that the hot geysers burst out at the crack of dawn, giving a spectacular view that is an experience of a lifetime.
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Tourists have to be up and ready in the middle of the night to be able to view this natural wonder. You have to leave early, as there is a long climb up to the geyser with the route going up winding roads with dangerous turns in order to get to the El Tatio, which lies at a height of 4,300 meters (13,780ft). From San Pedro de Atacama, the drive to El Tatio takes about three hours. All the way up to the geyser, you can watch the entrancing night skyline with glittering stars marking the night sky. In the distance you can see the silhouette of the snow-laden mountain range in the moonlight, which are actually volcanoes, a few of which are still active today.
El Tatio is the largest geyser in the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world after Wyoming’s Yellowstone National Park and Russia’s Valley of Geysers. Right at the break of dawn huge rushes of steam and boiling water splurt out of the ground rising to marvelous heights of two and a half feet, giving onlookers a spectacular view of nature’s magnificent mechanics. The breathtaking view wipes out the endurance of a sleepless night and the bone-racking drive up to the geysers in the chill of the night. Many tourists take a dip in the hot springs, however it must be remembered that there are no changing rooms here, but only open hot fields.
It is advisable to take a guided tour to the El Tatio geyser, as the field can be very dangerous to tread on at some places. This is due to the small ruptures in the earth surface that may break open, making you fall into boiling water and getting scalded. Also it must be remembered that although the geysers that sprout out here are extremely hot, there is a chill breeze in the air early in the morning and so you must be warmly clad. If you have any problem traveling to high altitudes, think twice before you take this trip, as El Tatio is at quite a height. All said; a visit to the El Tatio geysers is an experience that you will always cherish forever.