Calama, Antofagasta Region, Chile
Sun - Sat 7am - 6pm
El Tatio GeysersThe cheap alarm clock worked. It was 3am and time to wake up to go to the El Tatio Geysers, which I had been excited about seeing.
Why would anyone wake up so early to see the geysers? Because the best time to see them is at sunrise when the geysers give off steam that condenses in the bitterly cold morning air. The steam plumes disappear as the air warms up. And at 4200m (about 13,800 ft), the air gets darn cold. -8ºC (17 F), to be exact.
The El Tatio geysers are a geothermic Dante's Inferno, with fumaroles and such. Some geysers spew forth pillars of steam and smelly mineral water. Others the size of cauldrons bubble. Others hiss like steam kettles.
Sunrise at 4200m is beautiful, a clearer, bolder sun. But the sunrise also means that the high mountain air will soon warm, and the steam from the geysers will subside. But it was truly beautiful.