Our next excursion was to the Tatio Geysers. This is a geothermal zone high in the Andes at 4320m above sea level. The geysers are active at between 6am to 8am in the morning so we had an early start by waking up at 03:15 and being picked up at our hostel at 4am. We then drove for an hour and a half to get to the geysers. As we left San Pedro, our guide told us that we can sleep on the way (it was still pitch dark outside) but that for half the journey the road was good and for the other half the road was bad. I am not sure which half was which, the road went from bad to VERY bad, not sure which was the good part though. So we bounced and lurched our way to the Tatio Geysers, high in the mountains. We were told to dress warmly as it was really cold in the higher altitude in the early morning. When we arrived, the temperature was – 1.5 C. As I stepped off the bus into the inky darkness, I felt the cold bite my legs (I was wearing shorts, knowing that later would be really hot) It was quite an experience to be in the middle of a desert and experiencing such cold.
We were then taken to the geysers in the valley and they were just starting to splutter to life. The sounds were amazing, it sounded like there were kettles bubbling and boiling all around us, some of the geyser had a sulfuric smell too, some stronger than others. As the sun began to come up the geysers became more and more active and the real show began, pretty soon, most of them were bubbling away happily at 85 degrees celcius, and you had to be careful where you stood, visitors to the geysers have been horribly burned by these steam plumes and 3 people have died at the geysers. Fortunately on our trip everything went smoothly and with the sun now over the ridge we saw some beautiful sights of the geysers in full steam, we were standing near one of the big ones and out guide looked at the sun and told us that within a few minutes this one would blow. Almost on cue it began to splutter and within a minute began spraying high into the air, quite an amazing sight indeed, no sooner had it done that and it died down to a splutter again, perfect timing.!
We then moved onto the thermal pools where some people took a dunk in the warm sulfuric water. The Tatio Geysers are simply spectacular and in many ways other worldly. It again felt as if we had landed on another planet and that this was some kind of wasteland that had been forgotten. We loved it, it was amazing to see this place and to realize we were at the highest altitude we had been so far on this trip, 4320m above sea level and so deep into the Andes that we were only 7km away from the Bolivian border, we were literally in the middle of nowhere.