El Tatio is a geothermal field with many geysers located in the Andes Mountains of northern Chile at 4,320 metres above mean sea level. It is the third-largest geyser field in the world and the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.
Know Before You Go
- Visitors arrive in the early morning to see the geysers shoot steam into the air, a sight most clearly visible between 6 and 7 a.m. A certain amount of caution is advised, as bleary eyed tourists and boiling pools of water don’t tend to mix too well. Tread carefully, as numerous burn injuries and some fatalities have been recorded at El Tatio.
- On your own: The entrance to Geysers del Tatio is CLP$10000 ($20Cdn)
- With a tour: The tour is CLP$20000 ($40Cdn) + the entrance to El Tatio in Chile is CLP$10000 ($20Cdn)
- El Tatio geothermal field is located at 4320 metres / 14,173 feet above sea level. If you are not used to high altitudes, you might want to take a few days to acclimatize in San Pedro de Atacama which sits at 2408 metres / 7900 feet above sea level.
- The altiplano is a wide plain in the Andes mountains. The altiplano around the El Tatio Geysers Chile has unique flora and fauna that can survive at a high altitude. Vicunas, a miniature cousin of the llama, graze lazily on the yellow tufts of grass. Flamingoes are very social birds and are always found in large groups.
- The last stop on the El Tatio Geysers tour is the little village of Machupa. It consists of one main street lined with adobe homes, a whitewashed church and grazing llamas. In the plaza, locals welcome tourists with drinks and sizzling llama kebobs for purchase.
- Watch your step. Visitors have suffered burns from falling through the thin crust into underlying pools of scalding water.
- Dress in layers. It’s cold at sunrise, but you’ll quickly heat up on the way back down.
- Tours from San Pedro de Atacama typically get travelers to the field in time for sunrise, when the geysers are at their most active. Dawn is also the ideal time to spot wildlife like vicuñas and llamas. If you’re driving yourself, you can beat the crowds by going later in the day, but the show won’t be quite as impressive.
- 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.
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!