Where: Near San Pedro de Atacama, North Chile
When: Year round attraction, visit in early morning for best sights
Remember to Bring: Bathing costume if you fancy a hot dip
Watch out for: Burning hot waters – access is unrestricted but stand back!
Where It’s At
The El Tatio (“The Grandfather”) are located around 50 miles from the oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama in Northern Chile. Standing at 4,200 metres above sea level in a high altitude plain, El Tatio is said to be the highest geyser field in the world. With over 80 active geysers, it is the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world. Its geysers erupt to an average height of about 75 centimetres, with the highest eruption observed being around 6 metres
With its remote setting and spectacular surrounding scenery, the geysers are certainly one of the most impressive to visit for their overall effect and are a very popular attraction with tourists. The fumaroles (smoke from the geysers) create incredible white steam columns which are best viewed in the early morning.
What’s a Geyser?
Geysers are found in volcanic or recently volcanic areas around the world and scientists believe they indicate the presence of magma beneath the earth’s surface.
They are a type of hot spring that erupt in a burst of hot water or steam and are formed when rain water soaks into the ground and runs deep into the cracks of the earth. The water then comes into contact with heated rocks which cause it to boil and push upwards with great force in either steam or liquid form. These spectacular eruptions can last from anything between a few minutes to a few hours.
Visiting El Tatio
The best time to visit the E Tatio is between 4.30am and 7.00am when its streams can reach up to 30 feet high. This means an early start in San Pedro where tour operators all require a 4.30am start for the two and a half hour drive. The tour is highly recommended as it is cheap and it’s difficult to find location if you travel privately.
Unlike many other geyser fields in the world the area is unrestricted, offering a real close-up view of this rare activity. There are even thermal water pools where visitors can take a warm bath if they are brave enough to strip down in the cold early morning weather.
Go Chile: Tatio Geysers
Tourist guide with where to stay, how to get there and tour guides
El Tatio Geysers Photo Trek
Photographic moody and stylish photos of these steamy creatures
The official tourism board of Chile