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El Tatio Geysers in the Atacama, Chile

An early start!
We had our doubts about leaving our hotel before dawn, as the hours of darkness can be a little chilly in the Atacama Desert. But this is the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the world’s third largest, so it could not be missed. Walking at 4300 metres altitude is also a rare experience, as was the minus 10 degrees temperature at sunrise, but the geysers are steam fumaroles, which don’t work unless the steam can condense in the cold air! So, the early start is mandatory…
Should we swim?
Volcanic lava is not far below the surface in this eerie, primordial landscape and as the water trickles down it is repeatedly reheated and jets out and up in spectacular plumes 30 metres high. The view of the steam against the sunrise in the background alone is worth the effort to be here. For the more adventurous there is a hot spring pool for bathing with changing cubicles and while we weren’t too keen, there were plenty of brave souls who were! Close your eyes and ignore the temperature and you could be on a holiday beach anywhere!
Breakfast BBQ
And if you think that a chilly sunrise is a little early for a BBQ, forget it. Our guides had a portable gas hob and the ham and cheese toasties, followed by muffins and cakes, were good, even though we had to eat them with our gloves on. As well as everything else actually…
Dress warmly
But that is the astonishing Atacama for you. It is basically warm and often hot, but with temperatures ranging down to decidedly fresh and we were glad we had prepared our clothes in layers. We had five or six at one stage, but it was still an amazing breakfast experience with a real party atmosphere. Do not miss it when you visit Chile!
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