Hot and cold
Chiuchiu Travel Blog› entry 3 of 24 › view all entries
Rise and shine very, very early. Today we wanted to visit the most active geysers in the Andes, those of El Tatio. We were told that these are most active at sunrise.
From San Pedro de Atacama it is quite a drive to the geyser field high in the Andes. It's not only the distance, but also the quality of the road; long and winding dirth road. As it is still dark when we were going to drive this road, it was going to be a big challenge. Luckily we had our Bakliner! It was adventurous, but we made it, in two hours.
We arrived at early sunrise and saw the "smoking" landscape from far. There was nothing and nobody; we had the geysers entirely for ourselves. Watch out were to park your car though. You'll be surprised to get a free car wash, but I wonder if the bottom of the vehicle would survive the steam.
El Tatio is on an altitude of about 4.300 meters. This means it's cold in the morning, very cold. You can approach the geysers very close, walk through the steamy clouds and heaten your body in this free sauna. But again, watch out! You wouldn't be the first victime of El Tatio. We admired this wonderful landscape and could have stayed here the whole day.
In the meantime the sun was up and temperature was getting higher. The geysers were still active; we could have stayed in bed much longer! Anyway, it was time to move on. We took the road west towards Calama, but as the small village Chiuchiu was strategally situated on a crossroad of road 21, which leads north into Bolivia, we decided to stop in Chiuchiu.
But first we visited Caspana, according to some travelguides one of the most beautiful villages of northern Chile. At a hight of more than 3.200 meters it lies in a nice valley. The old part of Caspana is pre-spanish and still inhabitated.
On a hill near Chiuchiu are the ruins of a fortified village of the Atacamenos, the Pucara of Lasana, where walked along the small pre-Inca alleys. Finally we arrived in Chiuchiu, not more than a street, a square with a church and a school. First goal was to find some beds, which wasn't easy. We were lucky to find something like a hotel. We visited the nice church and picked up the music from the school. There was a schoolparty going on: the children were making music on traditional instruments while others did their utmost to dance in their outfits to impress the audience. And we were! We really loved this performance; this is Chile!