San Pedro de Atacama is really a small town – with more restaurants and hotels than we’ve seen in a long time. Our campground is a bit run down, but we actually had a good night sleep. It got quite cold in the night, but as from 8:00am the sun hit the tent and not much later we had to get out of the sauna! We had been advised by other people to take the scenic drive up to the geysers of ‘El Tatio‘. It’s a 90km drive through a beautiful setting – although the quality of the roads changed dramatically in the last 30km! The whole drive took us about 3 hours – and Rodrigo was shaken but not stirred along the way!
Although we’re in the desert, every now and then we crossed small streams (some with a bridge, some without) and saw clear water rolling down the hills!
In the lagoons formed by the rivers, all types of exotic creatures could be found. There were plenty of flamingoes looking for food in the peaceful lagoons!
Initially we thought we saw lamas, but we were told later in the day that this animal is a vicuna!
Along the road we were stopped by some guys whose car had broken down. We bought jump start cables back in Canada – and we were happy to put them to good use! Unfortunately, their car could not be revived with Rodrigo’s life blood… it was too little too late! We felt sorry for them but promised to flag a car down to give them a lift down the mountain, as we were heading up. We left them with extremely useful advice that next time they should buy a Toyota 🙂
After 90km of uphill driving, we reached an altitude of 4,300 meter and saw the geysers, mud pools and hot springs. Apparently it’s the third largest geyser field in the world – after Iceland and Yellowstone (thanks Koen 🙂 ). It’s impressive – albeit somewhat dangerous – to see boiling water coming up out of the ground!
The hot spring was completely abandoned and looked very tempting for a guy whose bones were shattered after the rocky ride. Although the reader should note that whereas the water is warm, the thin air is quite cold at 4,300 meters altitude!
We parked Rodrigo outside the ranger station and prepared for a cold night. We were told the temperate could drop down to -5° Celsius, so we loaded all our blankets and towels in the tent. A lone wolf named Zorro patrolled around our car all night, giving us a feeling of security and a real desire to stay inside.
I love you baby like a flower loves the spring
And I love you baby just like Tina loves to sing
And I love you baby like a school boy loves his pet
And I love you baby, river deep mountain high