Posted by: gypsytales | March 21, 2010

Geysers el Tatio – San Pedro de Atacama

In order to observe the geothermic activity of the geysers an early start was required to drive the 2½ hours and arrive before sunrise.  While the temperature was only -1°C it was a cold that bit right through all our layers of clothing, feeling even colder than when we were in Antarctica.

There are many warnings about the dangers of the fragility of the area.  On one internet site I read about 3 people who fell into the bubbling hot pools and boiled to death.  This played on my mind over and over again as we walked precariously between the hissing and boiling geysers.

At dawn great fumaroles, reaching temperatures of 85°C hiss through the earth’s fissures shooting steam and gases into the air reaching heights of up to 10 metres.  The geysers are only active at sunrise, hence the need to arrive so early, but the thermals steam all day.

 It’s an in credible spectacle and as the sun broke over the horizon and still with temperatures below freezing we were treated to breakfast with hot chocolate that had been boiling in one of the geysers, this brought a whole new meaning to the term hot chocolate.

boiling hot chocolate

After breakfast it was off to the natural mineral pools just beyond the geysers.  While the pools where gloriously warm it was the outside temperature that was sure to cause me great suffering and so I decided to opt out of this one.

llama sosaties on a braai

On the way back we stopped in a little village.  Having an early start meant we were really starving, even after nibbling on breakfast and sipping hot chocolate at the geysers.  So it was a splendid surprise to find what we’d call in South Africa “sosaties” also known as skewers, with tender pieces of llama and peeled onion simmering over hot coals.  Another couple we met on the tour, Kevin and Kathy, humorously commented that this was so South African, finding a braai in the middle of nowhere…the taste…tooo delicious…mmm!

baby llama only 1 month old

Before arriving back at San Pedro de Atacama at around lunchtime we made one last quick stop.  “Sopressa!”  “Surprise!”, we pulled up at a small house and our driver quickly returned with two baby llamas in tow.  They were just the sweetest little creatures with the soft, fluffy fur that felt silky to touch.  We each had a turn to feed them milk from a baby bottle.  There was moment when I felt awfully guilty for possibly eating one of their relatives a short while earlier.



  1. Hello gypsies, have not heard from you for some time and was concerned but you seem to be all fine because your blogs are just stunning. Your senses must be totally overwhelmed with everything that you are seeing and experiencing! I am so envious! Was thinking again over the weekend that here I am busy buying and doing to set up a B&B and feeling that more and more concrete is setting around my feet! Maybe and hopefully this is just a season.
    Would be lovely to hear from you guys again so please write!
    Cheers honeys

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