Sunday, January 23, 2011

Chile Day 5

Early AM
We started the day by leaving the lodge at 5:30am this morning. We were headed up to see the Tatio Geysers and had been told to dress up warm as the temperature would be below zero.
These shots were taken out of the car window as the sun crept up over the horizon. There were still the odd star in the sky as the volcanos outlines starting to fill in with colour.

We passed little villages like these nestling in the hills, still in a sleepy state as rather a lot of tourist trucks and buses rattled past. I think this was the first trip where we had really seen lots and lots of tourists all heading to the same destination. Euan and I had already started to suffer with slightly queasy stomach and headaches as we headed higher and higher, I am not sure how much of that was due to the rough road and being tossed about in the back of a van.

Soon enough we made it to our destination and started to try and spot the wildlife that the signs told us was here. We did manage to find these......

and one of these .........

even if it was a blurry photo but sadly.........

no more of these....

We bundled ourselves up and headed out onto the geyser field to witness this wonderful natural occurance. I have to admit now that both John and I were slightly dissapointed with the geysers, I think possibly because we have been spoilt with those we've seen elsewhere but it all felt just a bit too touristy.

Still it didin't stop me playing around trying to get some arty farty shots before the sun rose high in the sky.

There were lots of information boards spread around the place with some very interesting english spellings and punctuation. JP was very worried that the kids or us were going to stray onto the areas around the geysers. Apparently several people have died here in past years when they fell through the crust that surrounds the geyser openings and basically burnt to death. Not very nice is it. So we styed well away from the edges after that chat!

Soon enough the sun was rapidly gaining height in the sky and the whole field became evident to the naked eye. The chill that had been there when we arrived was slowly starting to lift even if the smell wasn't!!

Excuse the silly hat, John hates this hat but unfortunately there isn't much to choose from here to replace it.
Smokey Kids

Erupting geysers and

bubbling pools that turned into

large boiling spouts of water and steam.

We made our way throught the field past the thermal pool where some brave souls were taking a dip in the below zero temperatures. I am sure it was fine once you were in the water but the thought of having to get out and dressed in front of everyone didn't appeal. There were no changing rooms or private areas just a big wide open space!

The colours in some of the pools were amazing, they were really bright oranges, reds and yellows.

Once we reached the other side we found Pablo who had set breakfast up for us, with hot chocolate that had been heated in the geysers no less!

The geysers were at a height of 13,855 feet which I think is why Euan and I had a slight headache again. I did have to take my inhaler once just to ease off my chest but was pleasantly surprised I didn't struggle any more than that. We clambered back into the car again for the drive back down the mountains and a visit to the hot springs.
By now the sun was high in the sky even though it was only about 10am. As you drive down to the springs the valley really doesn't look like much.

Once you reach the base though the little oasis is revealed in its belly.

It is owned by one of the large Explora hotels which has its own private pool for guests but there were over 8 other pools to choose from which got colder as you headed down the valley.

Miss Ellie as usual was one of the first ones to jump in and splashed about happily in the warm waters.
Quickly followed by this ragged lot. There was a waterfall at either end of this pool which was great fun to swim up to and to try and get under.

Here you can see the fall behind the kids.

There were airy changing rooms and painted boardwalks that connected all the pools together. I made the mistake of heading down the boardwalk to visit the other pools without shoes on and oh boy was it hot underfoot.

A quick splash in the pool to cool off those feet was rather nice.

Almost our own litte infinity pool............

filled with little black fish which was a rather bizarre feeling as they swam past you.

Pablo laid on a late morning snack to see us through until lunch........

and JP joined us for a dip. Note at this point John as telling me to watch I didn't get burnt, hmmm so who did get burnt that day John? poor thing really suffered the next few days with a really red back.

Before to long it was time to make our way back to the lodge for our lunch and Pablo had the unenviable job of driving back up the narrow and slippery road that brought us to this little paradise.

Afternoon Bimble

In the afternoon we all headed to bed for a siesta to catch up on our early morning start. Before dinner though the children and I headed out for a horse back ride around San Pedro. There was no persuading John to get on a horse unfortunately and we left him behind at the lodge. I wasn't sure Euan would be up for this but he seemed rather keen so I thought we would give it a go.

Maddie was saddled up first and although apprehensive she was grinning from ear to ear.

Cool dude Euan was up next with his shades and baseball cap.

And off onto the road we headed. Of course the silhouette shots were begging to be taken :)

At which point the other instructor in our group offered to take some photos for me. That was the last I saw of the camera for the ride as he disappeared here and there shooting with arm outstretched!

Maddie's little legs worked overtime trying to get her stead to trot on and catch with the horses.
This one got quite frustrated as she wasn't used to the patagonian style of riding with only one hands on the reins and moving it across the neck to the get pony moving in the direction you wanted.

And this one had me in stitches as he flapped his legs and arms together to get his mount going, it seemed to work though and he was thoroughly enjoying the adventure. We stopped half way through the ride to have some Kiaora on horse back outside a little mud hut which I wouldn't have known was a shop.

Then we made a slow loop back around towards San Pedro again and past Licancabur who was starting to turn orange in the evening sun. Not the most glamorous photo of me but who cares I was back on horse back and having a whale of a time.

Too soon we were back at the hotel and saying thank you to our guides and horses. The kids voted it was their favourite activity of the day which is pretty good going if you ask me. Dinner and an early night rounded off another sucessful day.