With the sunrise we head towards one of the entries to the Andean highlands, passing through important altitude ecosystems of extremely rich biodiversity such as the wetlands of Machuca and Putana. We make a stop at Machuca, a little farmer´s village, to then continue towards an overwhelming spectacle of nature: the geyser field ´El Tatio´. Before returning to San Pedro we explore yet another mighty gift of the earth, known as the “Geyser Blanco” (White Geyser), where the ones who have the heart can get into the thermal waters in the middle of the river trough.
|SEMI-PRIVATE SERVICE: High quality standard services with a maximum of 10 passengers per group, most of them from hotels that work with us. Our bilingual guides (spanish – english) assure a personalized service.
The days and hours of the excursions may vary depending on the season, climatic conditions and the groups that we form. The final itinerary will be confirmed upon arrival in San Pedro, but even during your stay it can vary depending on the mentioned conditions, we will be informing immediately about any change.
Geyser Field “El Tatio”
77 kms northeast of San Pedro, the intense volcanic activity of the region becomes evident in the form of vigorous thermal manifestations known as geysers. It were the indigenous people of these lands who named this geothermal field “Tatio”, a Kunza word that breaks down into tata-iu, the crying grandfather.
The phenomenon is caused by the contact of water, penetrating the cordillera, with a subterranean complex of hot rocks that are a product of the magmatic activity of this sector. The matutinal cold (around -10°C) generates high condensation which produces fumaroles that can rise up to 10 meters with fascinating colors between the nebulas.
The ground is soft and often brittle due to the water that flows beneath. Because of that one has to be very careful when walking over the fields. There is a thermal pool suitable for bathing (54°C) from where it is possible to observe and admire the spectacle of the geysers.
The geysers “El Tatio” at 4.300 masl are some of the highest in the world, and are administrated by the indigenous communities of Caspana and Toconce.
While most of the visitors go very early to see the sunrise at the geysers, we leave San Pedro de Atacama with the rise of the sun in order to make the whole tour an unforgettable experience: seeing the beautiful landscapes on the way up; getting to know Machuca in an authentic and quiet way – before the arrival of hundreds of tourists; enjoying the geothermal fields in all their solemnity and tranquillity while observing the fauna that walks between the geysers, being able to observe attentively and without freezing temperatures the overwhelming natural phenomena.
Machuca is a small village at 4.000 masl whose few inhabitants still maintain the tradition of cattle breeding. For this reason, during a few hours every day we are able to see herds of llamas and sheep grazing in the wetlands around Machuca, amongst wild Vicuñas and a rich avifauna.
Machuca´s constructions of stone, adobe and straw transport us back to past times, when the village was inhabited by a considerably larger community. Towering over the village, the church and bell tower hold ready for us yet another universe full of symbolism, which can be better understood each 25th of July. That day most of the machuqueños come back to their village to gather and celebrate their patron Saint Santiago.
Around 4.300 masl, right at the entrance to the altiplano and with an active volcano of the same name that completes the panorama, the Putana river widens – thus giving life to one of the most important ecosystems of these high lands: “bofedales” (highland wetlands).
Formed by a number of interweaved micro canals of water and a dense vegetation dominated by “Paja brava” (Peruvian feathergrass), the wetlands are the source of life in the cordillera. Even pumas and other species with vulnerable conservation status foregather here to find food and water. The Putana wetland stretches across kilometres receiving also a great number of birds. Its waters continue downstream until, together with other contributors, giving life to the San Pedro River. Very few places offer such an ample and outstanding view of the highlands like this one.
Embedded at the bottom of a canyon only minutes away from the Tatio geysers, the White Geyser is a sector where water from springs, creeks and the subsoil confluence. All of them have different temperatures, from the coldest to some that are at boiling point, but mixed together they form a thermal river where having a bath is highly recommendable. The whitish colors of the formation are due to a strong mineralization at the surface, deposited by numerous springs of boiling water.
Before entering the water it is necessary to check the water temperature, since it can vary depending on the time of the year.
6:15-6:45 Pickup from your hotel
Machuca wetland & Machuca village
Breakfast at the Geysers
Walk across the geothermal field
- Vestimenta: ropa cómoda, zapatos para caminar. Varias capas.
- Ropa muy abrigada (primera capa, polar, cortaviento; guantes, gorro) para la hora más helada al amanecer, especialmente en invierno (mayo-agosto).
- Traje de baño.
- Artículos personales: bloqueador solar, sombrero, lentes.
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What to bring?
- Comfortable clothing, walking shoes. Several layers.
- Very warm clothing (first layer, fleece, windbreaker; gloves, woolen hat) for the coolest hour around sunrise, especially in winter (May to August).
- Swimming suit.
- Sunblock, hat, sunglasses, lip balm.
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