El Tatio Geysers, Atacama

Located at 14,170 feet in the Andes mountains, near the border with Bolivia, El Tatio (which in Quechua means “old man crying”) is the third largest geyser field in the world, and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere. The geothermal field covers an area of approximately three square kilometers and consists of over 80 active geysers, as well as countless fumaroles, mud pots, and hot springs. Visitors get there before sunrise to watch the first rays of light illuminate the columns of steam.

The geysers at El Tatio can reach impressive heights, with some eruptions spouting hot water and steam over 10 meters (30 feet) into the air. A variety of thermophilic microorganisms, including colorful bacteria and algae contribute to the vibrant colors found in the geyser pools. In addition to the geysers, El Tatio offers visitors the opportunity to relax in natural hot springs. Many visitors stop for a soak in the thermal pools.

El Tatio’s high altitude means that visitors should be prepared for the effects of thin air and strong sunlight. It is important to acclimatize to the altitude before visiting and to dress warmly, as temperatures can be quite cold in the morning.


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