Chile | Geothermal Wonders: A Journey to the Tatio Geysers in the Atacama Desert

Geothermal Wonders: A Journey to the Tatio Geysers in the Atacama Desert

Newcomer to the Tatio geysers

One of the experiences I will never forget is visiting the Tatio Geysers, the highest geothermal field in the world and the largest in South America. In this article, I'll share all the details and recommendations for maximizing your enjoyment on this unmissable tour.

During my stay at the Explora Atacama lodge, we were offered various explorations every night, one of which included a visit to the El Tatio Volcano, which means "the crying grandfather" in the local language.

Explora Atacama | Lodge | Chile


It's important to note that these excursions start very early; we set out before dawn - 4:30 AM - to witness the beautiful sunrise and make the most of the sunlight. If you prefer to tackle the tour independently, you can do so by hiring rental vans, which usually cost around USD 42 plus an additional 14 at the park entrance.

Table of content
 

Preparation for the Adventure

 

When we confirmed our tour, we were given some recommendations: avoid eating red meat the night before, refrain from consuming any alcohol, and for smokers, don't even think about lighting up a cigarette (both the night before and during the tour). Yes, there were guides who smoked comfortably, but they must be accustomed to the altitude (and obviously, they disposed of their cigarette butts in a trash can, NEVER leaving litter in these natural areas).

Since the geysers are located at 4,300 meters above sea level, we were advised to dress warmly to protect ourselves from the wind and cold (we experienced -8°C in summer). What saved me was a triclimate jacket, combining a fleece liner and a waterproof shell to provide insulation and comfort. The layers can be combined for different levels of thickness and warmth.

Completing my ensemble with some llama wool sweater and gloves I purchased at an airport shop, I was perfectly equipped to withstand the harsh weather conditions typical of Atacama.

Feeling well-insulated and eagerly anticipating what lay ahead, I prepared my camera. A year ago, I invested in a true gem: the Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III, and I haven't looked back since. It's a premium compact camera ideal for travel, street photography, vlogging, and content creators seeking excellent image quality in a compact body. It boasts much better image quality than a smartphone, with good connectivity (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth), a flip-up screen, 4K recording capabilities, and a versatile, bright zoom lens, perfect for these types of journeys in the Atacama Desert.

If you plan to use a tripod, we recommend opting for a lightweight one. The hike is long, and the altitude can make carrying heavy equipment uncomfortable. I purchased a grip tripod for my Canon, designed for stable recording, with remote control functionality and weighing only 163 grams.

Once ready, we prepared some coca leaf teas to tackle the altitude without any issues. I find coca tea delicious; it oxygenates me and helps increase physical resistance.

The Tatio Geysers Tour

 

We were picked up in a van, and along the way, we were able to appreciate the different ecological zones, with a large part of the highland fauna such as vicuñas, foxes, and the extravagance of the flamingos. The road has several curves but is well-paved, making it very safe.

Flamingo | Atacama Desert | Chile
Photo: Marcelo_minka

After two hours of travel, we arrived at the geothermal field. We walked through the reserve, feeling its inner activity. It was a unique sensation that combined the powerful views of the Andes Mountains with the hot springs from which the steam emanates. Stepping into this place is like feeling the Earth breathe, sweat, it's alive. The imprint of the place is wonderfully surreal. The mixture of lights and shadows, steam, and sounds form a unique cocktail for the senses.

Fumaroles | Atacama Desert | Chile
Photo: tifonimages

The Thermal Waters Experience

 

After admiring the fumaroles, the areas with small mounds formed by accumulating salts, and the bubbling pits, we reached the second part of the tour, a section where we could immerse ourselves and enjoy the hot water: the thermal pool.

The water temperature is pleasant, but the cold air is too much. Many people are hesitant to get into the pool, but it's worth it! Considering it's all natural; it's nature itself, the inherent heat emanating from the center of our planet.

Needless to say, bring a swimsuit, cover-up, a polar towel, and slippers to comfortably make your way to the changing rooms and shield yourself from the icy wind. It's a rejuvenating experience that revitalizes body and mind after the hike through the geysers.

Thermal Waters | Atacama Desert | Chile
Photo: ArtTower

I enjoyed this experience so much that I decided to take a very similar excursion included in my tour package at Explora: Puritama Hot Springs. A true paradise nestled in one of the canyons of this area of the Atacama Desert.

After the relaxing bath in the Tatio hot springs, we headed to Machuca, a practically abandoned town with an impressive church. We were very hungry because we had woken up very early, and it was truly enjoyable to find stalls selling hot food and delicious drinks to complete the day.

Machuca Church | Atacama Desert | Chile
Photo: jkraft5

The first thing that captivated us was the aroma of llama or alpaca anticuchos, an ancestral pre-Columbian dish. They are delicious skewers of llama or alpaca meat, seasoned with herbs and chili.

We then moved on to the exquisite goat cheese empanadas and sopaipillas, a type of fried dough made from squash, flour, and then fried in oil.

One of the things you can buy in this town is muña muña, a very popular herb in some regions of South America and especially in northern Chile. Besides being delicious as an infusion, it has incredible properties because it's good for the respiratory and digestive systems.

Visit the Tatio Geysers in the Atacama Desert in Chile


A definite must if you are visiting the part of Chile

Visiting the Tatio Geysers is an unforgettable experience that allows travelers to connect with nature in its most primitive state. From the excitement of witnessing geothermal activity to the relaxation of soaking in hot springs, this tour offers a unique adventure in one of the most extreme and surprising environments on the planet.

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