• Day8

    Day 7 - Geysers and Thermals

    January 3, 2019 in Chile ⋅ ⛅ 20 °C

    The food yesterday didn't sit right and I woke with issues. We boarded the bus but I opted to get back off and stay near a bathroom. Gail went with the others tourists up the mountain to the Tatio Geysers.

    The geysers are a two-hour drive up a "relentlessly bumpy" (guidebook's words) road. Gail confirmed the description. It was just dawn when the tour arrived at Tatio. This is the world's highest geothermal field (at about 14,000 feet) with dozens of holes from which steam periodically erupts. The tour starts so early to reach the field at dawn when the steam is especially noticable in the cold (40s?) morning air. The guide provided some explanations in heavily accented English, though he seemed to forget what language he was speaking in the middle of some sentences and reverted to Spanish. The tourists walked around the vents along marked paths. After visiting Yellowstone and the towering geysers there, Gail was not impressed with the two-foot high spurts coming from these vents. The mountain scenery, though, was higher, closer and more striking than we"d seen. There had been snow overnight on the peaks and they were brilliant white even in the overcast day. Gail felt woozy from the trip and the altitude getting off the bus. The tour hosted a light breakfast before traveling a mile to a series of thermal baths. Here some of the tourists donned suits and sat in the hot waters. After half an hour, the tour started back down the very steep road.

    Next stop, some warm wetlands nourished by the geyser runoff where flamingos and vicunas grazed. Gail spotted a Horned Coot guarding its nest in one pool. Further down the mountain they stopped at an abandoned village, Machuca, now being reconstructed as a tourist destination. A bit further down, they stopped at a local farm but had no program. Gail thought the stop was mainly to fill up time. That was the last stop and the tour was back at San Pedro about noon.

    My malady seemed to a false alarm and I felt ok after some morning sleep. We whiled away the afternoon catching up on correspondence and this blog. A late afternoon stroll took us up the street to the town square and the church. Tomorrow we fly back to Santiago.
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