Freelance consultant for digital heritage

Adventures in Chile: The El Taito geysers

I’m typing this sitting in a pleasant 26C heat by a swimming pool. The UV meter outside the (rather excellent) archaeology museum here in San Pedro de Atacama is recommending people of pale complexions to stay out of the sun. Since I currently resemble something akin to a freckled ghost, I’m doing just that. Some quiet blogging time for me then.

A couple of days ago Tehmina and I visited the El Taito geysers, a geyser field located in the Andes at an altitude of about 4300m. Our day began at 5.30am, when we met our guide, Leo, who would make sure that we saw the best of the scenery on the way there and back, and were safe and well-informed during our visit to the geysers.

Here’s a few (unedited) photos to give you a feel for what the El Taito geysers look like. The reason for the visit to be so early is because it is cold (-5C), and the steam clouds are visible as the water vapour (at 85C) cools and condenses. Also, the view of the columns of steam as the sun rises is stunning.





The geysers only shoot water to a height of about 75cm on average, but the alien feel to the place, with its organic shaped mineral deposits, columns of steam, and the gulping, belching sound made by the water pressure make this a fascinating place to visit. The air is quite thin at this altitude, so we were recommended to walk slowly by our guide, especially as it is so cold. Visitors must also not cross the stone markers, as the ground is rather unstable. Putting your foot in a puddle is one thing, but quite another if said water is close to boiling point…

We breakfasted by the geysers, then headed back down the mountains to the village of Machupa, a tiny adobe and stone village which sadly seems geared up as a tourist photo attraction, but is still worth a visit if you are interested in traditional building construction of the area.




It was still too early in the morning for me to sample a llama kebab, so we waited in the van whilst our brave tour companions ate theirs. We then continued down to a river to have a look at some local birds, and caught our first glimpse of a couple of flamingos, and some coots, amongst others.


Then it was back to San Pedro de Atacama to have a rest and explore the town some more. And maybe seek out a Pisco sour or two.