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It’s so dry in Chile’s northern Atacama Desert that our vehicle had
no windshield wipers. The Mars-like landscape stretches from the
southern border of Peru south to the Chilean city of La Serena. We
began our journey in Calama…in the Antofagasta Region…about a
two-hour flight north of Chile’s capital, Santiago.
Like a dust-covered treasure chest, the planet’s driest desert hides
numerous wonders. The first on our agenda was El Tatio, the largest
geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the third-largest in
the world. It was pitch dark at 4:00 a.m. when we departed for the
4,200-metre-high geological wonder.
The early departure from Calama, at 2,700 metres, was essential be-
cause we had to reach El Tatio before dawn. As the rising sun melts
the ice, 80 geysers explode in pillars of steam up to three storeys
high. Morning winds disperse the steam and the spectacular views.
Story and photos by Barb & Ron Kroll
4x4 vehicle on the road through the Atacama Desert