Forget the aisle seat, you’ll definitely be glued to the window when you check out these amazing plane views!
Window seat or aisle? You’ve guessed it. I’m ALWAYS a window seat girl. I mean what’s the point in travelling the world, and not seeing where you’re going? While I love curling up and watching a good movie, for me, the best in-flight entertainment is happening just beyond that window pane.
I often get goose bumps the first moment I spot the destination I’m travelling to – don’t you? Plus, when you book the window seat you know you’ll be able to cocoon yourself into a wonderfully comfy position, and have the edge of the plane to lean on. I honestly think it’s the comfiest seat on the plane.
Find out everything you need to know before visiting Atacama’s salt flats and altiplanic lagoons.
Deep blue lagoons surrounded by salt, flanked by towering volcanoes. Chile is a country that continued to surprise and delight me day after day.
The Atacama region is ALL about landscapes. After ticking off active volcanoes, bubbling geysers and lunar valleys, it was time to head off for a day of salt flats and lagoons.
We booked our tour with Viator, and just after 9am, local tour guide Tote collected us from our hostel in San Pedro De Atacama. Over the course of seven hours we would visit the traditional village of Toconao, step foot on Chile’s largest salt flats, see flamingos in the wild at Chaxa Lagoon, before checking out the extremely photogenic Miscanti and Miñiques lagoons (also known as Chile’s altiplanic lagoons. On board a comfy minibus (me glued to the window as usual!) we headed 30 minutes south to the small village of Toconao.
It’s time to travel to El Valle de la Luna in Northern Chile.
Rugged lunar landscapes, sand dunes, deep valleys and salt caves. Welcome to Chile‘s Atacama Desert – the driest place on earth.
It’s not everyday you feel like you’ve departed this planet, for another. It’s a feeling I’ve experienced once before when I visited Cappadocia in Turkey, ballooning over the bizarre moon-like rock formations.
When I reached the Atacama region of northern Chile I genuinely felt like I’d landed on the moon… or Mars… or anywhere really, but Chile.
After flying from Santiago to Calama, we hopped on a bus to the tourist town of San Pedro de Atacama, right in the heart of the Atacama Desert. As I walked down the town’s main street I was overwhelmed by the number of tour companies, each with the same offerings. In short, you can’t visit this part of the world and not see the picture perfect lagoons, salt flats, bubbling geysers and the lunar valley.
Taking A Tour Of El Valle De La Luna
12 hours on from my 4am trip to El Tatio Geysers, it was time to hop back on board the bus to tour El Valle de la Luna – the moon valley. I was pleased to be reunited with Veronica – our warm, friendly tour guide from that morning.
This tour would take us to see salt caves, rock formations, sand dunes and finish with sunset over the lunar valley. But could anything top the morning’s geyser tour…?
As I set my alarm for 4am, and rolled over in Hostel Desert – our cute little base in San Pedro de Atacama, I felt excited for the next day’s events. Over the past year or so of travel blogging I’d visited Costa Rican waterfalls, Guatemalan volcanoes, Mayan ruins, medieval Croatian cities and been swimming in several oceans, lakes and rivers. Up until now though, I’d never seen a geyser. In fact, I didn’t really know what a geyser was.
At an altitude of 4320m, 90km north of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile and just a few metres from the Bolivian border, is El Tatio (geiser del tatio). It’s the world’s third largest geyser field, and home to 80 active geysers. It’s aptly named too – El Tatio is a native American word for ‘oven’, and in an ancient lost language means ‘old man who cries’.
What Is A Geyser?
Well, as I looked out at sunrise, I’d describe it as an eerie area of land filled with bubbling pockets of water and steaming gases. Geysers occur when cold underground rivers hit hot rocks, heating and projecting the water up to the surface. As we were in a volcanic region in the Andes Mountains, it was hardly surprising to find them here.
But let’s go back to the beginning. It was 4am, I was deep in the heart of the Atacama Desert with just constellations for illumination, and wearing as many layers as I could for warmth. We were heading to high altitude for sunrise… and from what I’d heard, it was going to be cold.
Booking A Tour To Visit El Tatio Geysers At Sunrise
We chose to book with a popular tour operator. Once on board a minibus, friendly tour guide Veronica introduced herself, then suggested we catch a few zzzs as the journey would take around an hour and a half. Never a good napper (and full of beans at 4.30am – much to my other half’s annoyance), I attempted to take in the landscape. Yes it was pitch black, but occasionally there was an ominous silhouette of a volcano, or a new view of the spectacularly starry night sky.
Driving To El Tatio Geysers At Sunrise
I’m not going to lie, as someone who suffers with travel sickness, this journey was a tough one! The roads were incredibly bumpy and full of bends, leaving me very jealous of the dozing passengers around me. As we neared the entrance to the geyser site, the sun started to rise casting beautiful glimmers of light over the mountains. This was the start of an extremely magical day.