San Pedro de Atacama – Geysir Tatio & Moon Valley

Today was another brutal 4.45am alarm for us. We’ll sleep for days when we get back to Sydney to catch up on our sleep deficit!

We came back from our astronomy tour at midnight, so got a ridiculously short night sleep before another packed day.

This time we headed north, high up in the Andes to reach Geysir Tatio. The ride took about 1h40 on an extremely bumpy unsealed road, which made it impossible for us to finish our night in the bus despite our best efforts.

As we were getting higher and higher in the mountain, we could feel the temperature getting cooler and cooler. The tour company did warn us it would be cold, though didn’t mention it would be – 9 degrees kind of cold, so we were largely unprepared for this kind of temperature.

As we arrived at the Geysir, the sun wasn’t out yet so the cold was absolutely unbearable. Luckily we didn’t have to wait too long until the sun stopped hiding behind the mountain and helped us warm up a bit.

Geysir Tatio is the third largest Geysir in the world after Yellowstone in the US and the Valley of Geysers in Russia, but it is the highest in the world at over 4000m.

It’s very impressive to see all that steam and boiling water coming out of the ground. Fun fact, water boils at 86 degrees up there because of the change in pressure compared to lower altitude.

We walked around for a bit and then had a nice breakfast break, again discussing with other people in the group and their travel plans.

We then got dropped off at one of the hot springs in which Nick decided to swim. As it was still way too cold outside for me, I preferred to pass on this. Nick then reported it was hot but not boiling. The water was only 28 degrees. I take showers hotter than that!

Afterwards we headed back towards San Pedro, making a couple of stops on the way to an aboriginal village, where we had an excellent goat cheese empanada, and then another stop at an impressive flamingo lagoon.

In the afternoon we made our way to our next tour of the day: The Moon Valley.

This region is well known for its Mars like landscapes, so much so that NASA uses it to test instruments they plan to take to Mars.

By that point though, we were both absolutely destroyed and the tour was quite painful as all we wanted was sleep. But those landscapes made up for the lack of sleep. They kind of reminded us of the tour we did back in August in the American canyons.

Our first stop was one of the dunes, which we climbed up and enjoyed an unobstructed view over the valley. Incredible.

We then went on to visit an old salt extraction area, now closed as it was replaced by another big one located in Calama, and then the Valley de la Muerte before heading to Mirrador Coyote for sunset.

All tours seem to finish there for sunset, so it was quite busy but a nice finish to our tour day and our time in San Pedro de Atacama.

Overall we had a blast in San Pedro de Atacama. It would have been better if tours were spread out a bit more as we had initially planned but we were happy we could do pretty much everything we’d originally planned despite the strikes, even if it meant waking up and going to bed at ridiculous hours.

Next stop: Patagonia!



  • If visiting Geysir Tatio, bring warm clothing including hat and gloves. It is freezing up there!

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