El Tatio Geysers, Chile

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When visiting Chile, there are many natural wonders for you to enjoy. One of the best of these is the geyser field known as El Tatio. The El Tatio Geysers are in the Andes mountains in the northern part of Chile. This geyser field has the distinction of being located at an altitude higher than almost any other in the world. They are at an elevation of 13,780 feet. El Tatio is also the largest field of geysers to be found south of the equator, and is the third biggest on the planet, ranking behind only Yellowstone and Russia's Dolina Giezerov. There are over a hundred geysers in the field, which is about eight percent off the world total . Although the El Tatio geysers are not very tall, rarely reaching heights above 15 feet, they look spectacular in the early morning when they are surrounded by big clouds of steam.

Géiseres del Tatio, Atacama, Chile, 2016-02-01, DD 36-38 HDR
Géiseres del Tatio, Atacama, Chile, 2016-02-01, DD 36-38 HDR (Photo credit: Poco a poco)

The El Tatio geysers spout from openings ranging in the size of a small sink to the size of a manhole. Some are colorful because of minerals in the water, and others are more like big pots of boiling water, with no columns of water being spewed into the air. Hot water runs from vents and is hot enough to quickly boil an egg. There are also bubbling mud craters, and a pool in which you can bathe. The water is a rich green color and the temperature is 95 degrees Fahrenheit (35 Celsius). The active volcanoes which surround the field add to the scenic beauty of this place.

The geyser (fumaroles) of El Tatio and the Andes in the background
The geyser (fumaroles) of El Tatio and the Andes in the background (Photo credit: Zac Allan)

The El Tatio geysers are best reached by booking a tour leaving from the town San Pedro de Atacama. There is a visitor center with plumbing, but there are no park rangers. In some areas of the field, the ground is only a thin crust that can collapse under a person's weight, so stay with your tour guide.

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