The final full day in San Pedro de Atacama! Did you catch the beginning of the trip? Check out the adventures of Valle de la Luna, the Secret Salt lakes & an unforgettable flamingo sunrise before skipping to the end!
Much much to early my alarm went off. To my surprise all but one person in my room was doing the geyser tour, but with different companies. I put on 7 shirts (I swear I’m not exaggerating), leggings, jeans, wool socks, hat, and scarf trying to be prepared for the cold morning ahead. Vive Atacama was the tour company again with Freddy as the driver, however our guide this morning was Macarena. I easily fell asleep for the hour drive out there, waking up to windows that were caked with ice. It was cold and we were at very high altitude.
Arrival to Geyser Tatio
The geysers of Tatio are the third largest geothermal geyser field in the world with over 80 different geysers. In the dim morning light you could just see billowing steam coming up all over the place from the various geysers.
After getting a brief description of the geysers and warned multiple times that if we touched the water we would have to be rushed to the hospital 2.5 hours away, we were free to wander the geysers. Some had orange, red, and green bacteria growing in them and others had the weirdest textures and frozen waterfall looking things on the outside.
Geyser Sunrise with Hot Coffee
Most were spurting water here and there, a couple spurting huge amounts into the air every couple of minutes. I wandered and looked until I could no longer stand how cold I was. It was the coldest I had been in a long long time and the sun was not rising fast enough. After warming up on the bus and allowing the sun to rise, Freddy came through again with a delicious breakfast of bread with spicy scrambled eggs with peppers and hot coffee. There is something special about seeing these incredible places while the sun is coming up over the mountains with a hot cup of coffee in hand.
El Asesino and the Hot Springs
We then drove to the other side of the geyser field to see El Asesino, one of the largest geysers that has taken 4 lives, and to bathe in the geothermal pools. Hot water wouldn’t quite describe the pools, lukewarm might be more accurate. I braved them with my stiff salty swimsuit (from the salt lakes the day before) and enjoyed feeling my toes slowly thaw in the water. We swam in the water, feeling the weird air-holding mud in our toes until it was time to go. The worst part was getting out…
Empanadas in Machuca
We then continued on to the little town of Machuca. The only other English speaker on the bus, Mikeli, and I wandered the town chatting and looking at the decorated llamas, old church, and eventually buying one of the famous empanadas (although they were out of the llama ones!).
Wildlife Spotting in the Andes
Next stop was a beautiful frozen lake with turkeys wandering around and nesting on the surface, of course with the picturesque Andes in the background. On the way back to San Pedro we saw Vicuños, a beautiful smaller wild version of a llama, a smaller rabbit/marmot looking animal, and cactus.
Completos & Goodbyes
Back at the hostel Marcelito and Javier prepared a delicious lunch of the leftover asado with rice. I bought alfajores for the much necessary dessert :). You could tell how talented Javier was with his crazy veggie cutting skills and beautiful plating, I felt like I was eating at a 5 star restaurant.
Since I was leaving the next morning and was still pretty exhausted from all the activities we had been doing, we all decided to just wander the town for a couple hours. There is a big feria by the plaza along with lots of shops where the indigenous people sell souvenirs. Marcelo bought me a beautiful headband and Javier and I went on a quest to find the perfect gifts. It was a fun afternoon of wandering the town, looking at the shops, and just really feeling like I was a part of their family. Because I hadn’t tried a Completo while I was in Chile, they were adamant about having them for dinner. We had Completos Italianos, a hotdog, mashed avacados, diced tomatoes, mayo and ketchup on a bun. They were tasty!
Our little group we had gotten to know through the tours all joined and it was so cool to be a part of this culture that is so normal to them, and they all enjoyed sharing with me. By this point Marcelo was calling me “hija,” daughter :). After dinner we drank wine and Pisco and talked and talked and talked. It was wonderful. At midnight they kicked us out of the hostel and we relocated to another hostel to continue the party. Finally around 1 I headed back to my hostel with sad goodbyes and promises of seeing each other again. Marcelo walked me home and I couldn’t figure out how to express to him how thankful I truly was for everything. For including me and allowing me to be a part of his family for the week. How special they all were and how it was truly an unforgettable trip thanks to them.