Full Moon, Eclipse, Geysers - Very Mystical!.

Trip Start Feb 01, 2005
Trip End Dec 31, 2020

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Where I stayed
Hostal Candelaria

Flag of Chile  ,
Monday, December 20, 2010

It is 4am in the morning (why do tours always have to start so damn early!!) and the bus is rattling and shaking over unpaved and uneven roads climbing switchbacks to the very high El Taito Geysers. At 4,300 metres these are the world's highest geyser field. Most of the bus people are asleep for the two hour journey, huddled under supplied blankets. They don't know what they are missing - there out the window of the bus we are watching 

    a full eclipse of the moon! 

While we were waiting out the front of our hostel for our pickup, a van with a family inside stopped and asked us if we knew how lucky we were and what was happening?? We answered in the negative, then he told us about the eclipse, which was immediately obvious. They were excitedly driving around telling people it was happening. The fact that we had to be up at 4am for our tour was so fortunate as we would have been tucked up in bed otherwise and missed it.  It seemed quite bizarre as the day before we had been to Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon) in the Atacama Desert to see the sun set and the moon rise over the most amazing desert landscape. Things Lunar were definitely afoot! 

We are in San Pedro De Atacama, a small frontier town in Northern Chile, close to the Bolivian and Argentinian borders, with cute low rise adobe buildings and earthen streets. Christmas is a happening here and the little town square is adorned with a Christmas tree and decorations. We flew here from Santiago skipping the 23 hour bus, this time. Soon after arriving, we were in the main street in a travel agency booking our overland tour over the salt flats to Bolivia and we ran into Fiona again, the Kumuka tour guide we caught up with in Mendoza! We had made a tentative date to catch up for Christmas but now we find they are on the exact same time frame as ourselves and will be doing the same tours as us in San Pedro Atacama and travelling the three days to Uyuni on the same days so we will all arrive in Uyuni on Christmas Eve!. SMALL WORLD!!

Back to our tour of the geysers. As the sky started to lighten and the eclipse finished, we arrive at the most amazing geyser field. The air is rare (4,300 metres above sea level) and freezing cold. We are prepared for the cold but many are not and they huddle in the bus, missing an unforgettable sunrise. Hot steam bursts into the air as high as 20 metres and bubbles and gurgles in some other geysers at ground level. It is otherworldly. We can not stop shooting pictures, even as full daylight comes, and our bus driver prepares a delicious breakfast of hot thermos coffee, hard boiled eggs, bread and jam.  

After our picnic breakfast we travel to a hot thermal pool, strip off in the still cold air and all warm up in the mineral waters. On the way home the bus stops for a toilet break and an enterprising Chilean is barbecuing Llama kebabs. Delicious!

We leave Chile behind now and our next three days are going to be spent in a 4 wheel drive vehicle travelling through the amazing landscapes of  lakes, mountains and the famous Salar de Uyuni of Southern Bolivia.  


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