Considered one the largest geyser fields in the world, El Tatio in Chile is an obligated stop if you’re planning to travel around the country’s inland attractions. Here’s everything you need to know about the place and the reasons why you should visit it.
Where is it and how to get there
El Tatio es located at the Atacama Desert, also known as “the driest desert on Planet Earth”. The entrance to the desert is through the town of San Pedro de Atacama. The best way to get there is to catch a flight from Santiago –it is possible to get there by bus or car, but it is a 20 hour ride from the capital.
From San Pedro, you must take some form of private transportation (tour operators are easily found around town). The ride is about 90 minutes long and most operators leave San Pedro as early as 4:30 am, since dawn is the best time to catch the geysers.
What about the geysers?
Geysers happen when the cold water from underground rivers hits hot rocks, which is a common situation in volcanic areas such as the Atacama Desert. The heated water is then projected to the surface, sometimes creating a kind of pressure cooker effect.
El Tatio is considered the third largest geyser field in the world, which is the main reason why you shouldn’t miss out on checking it out when you’re traveling around Chile. The early morning light makes for some spectacular views!
Some geysers shoot powerful loads of steam into the air, reaching great heights. Others, gurgle and bubble with hot water and short spurts of steam. As the tour operators will warn, it is important that you keep your distance with the geysers, since the water they erupt is scalding hot and it can harm you.
Hot springs and breakfast
After touring around several geyser spots, the operators will then take you to a natural pool of steamy hot springs, where you can chill for a while and enjoy the landscape. Once you’re done with that, there will be a fresh made breakfast of fruit, scrambled eggs, bread, cheese, juice and some coffee or tea. The perfect ending to a perfect trip!
On the way back to San Pedro, you’ll be able to spot some of the beautiful, otherworldly landscapes that the Atacama Desert is famous for.
El Tatio Geysers are one of Chile’s most stunning natural wonders and one you should definitely consider visiting. The detour is more than worthy!