Geysers del Tatio - Chile

The Geysers del Tatio are located approximately 80km from the oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama in Northern Chile.  The Atacama desert is the driest desert on earth with some areas having never had recorded rainfall or moisture.   The Geysers are situated at 4321m (14043').  The tour operators in San Pedro all require a 4:00 am departure, if you chose to use them.  I recommend the tour as it is cheap and the roads are poorly marked.  It takes 2 1/2 hours to drive to the geyser basin on dirt road.  Across the mountain range into Bolivia is the Sol de Manana Geothermal area.

El Tatio is supposed to be the highest geyser field in the world at 4321m (14043 feet).  The air was very cold when we arrived before daybreak and the water in the runoff channels was frozen.  I believe that the reason the tour companies want you to be there in the early morning cold is so that the steam is more prominent as the water discharge is not nearly as great as in Yellowstone.

There are several small geysers, fumaroles, hot springs and one very nice mud pot.   There is an area where visitors can soak in one of the hot pools.  The area is unrestricted and you can walk anywhere you like.  The tour operators even drive their vans right up to the edge of some of the geothermal features!

We visited this area after our camping trip to the Imilac Meteorite Strewnfield and prior to our visit to the difficult to find Monturaqui Crater.


Click images to enlarge:


tatiomorning.jpg (35263 bytes) Sunrise over the Geyser basin.  The steam made an impressive sight in the early morning cold air.
The morning sun brings a clearer comprehension of the geothermal features of the area.
As the sun continues to rise, the steam diminishes.  Although there truly are geysers in the basin, I did not see any of them erupt more than 20 feet in height while I was there.
Another distant view of the geyser basin as the sun continued to rise in the sky diminishing the steam by warming the air temperature.
The tour operators drove their vans right up to the edge of the geysers and hot pools.  It reminded me of early photos of tourists in Yellowstone.
Everyone on the tours sat on this geyserite cone to have their picture taken.
I could not resist since everyone else was doing it!!!  Don't try this in Yellowstone, however.
tatiog.jpg (40204 bytes) Many of the geothermal features did a lot of constant splashing.
tatioh.jpg (55118 bytes) Another beautifully shaped geyserite cone.
tatioi.jpg (74333 bytes) There was one perfectly shaped mud pot.  Our guide was telling us facts about mud pots (some true, some not) when he reached down and took a scoop of warm mud so that one person in our group could feel it.  Incredible insensitivity to the beauty of the perfectly formed cone.

Jim Strope 421 Fourth Street Glen Dale, WV 26038



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