The world's highest geothermal field, the Geysers del Tatio are a breathtaking natural phenomenon. The sight of dozens of fumaroles, or geysers, throwing columns of steam into the air is unforgettable. A trip to El Tatio usually begins at 4 am, on a guided tour, when San Pedro is still cold and dark (any of the tour agencies in San Pedro can arrange this trip). After a three-hour bus trip on a relentlessly bumpy road, you reach the high plateau about daybreak. (The
entrance fee is covered if you are on a tour.) The jets of steam are already shooting into the air as the sun slowly peeks over the adjacent cordillera. The rays of light illuminate the steam in a kaleidoscope of chartreuses, violets, reds, oranges, and blues. The vapor then silently falls onto the sulfur-stained crust of the geyser field. As the sun heats the cold, barren land, the force of the geysers gradually diminishes, allowing you to explore the mud pots and craters formed by the escaping steam. Be careful, though - the crust is thin in places and people have been badly burned falling into the boiling-hot water.
On your way back to San Pedro, you may want to stop at the Termas de Puritama hot springs. A hot soak may be just the thing to shake off that early morning chill 10,000 pesos.