The Land of Poets

433-the-land-of-poetsChile could be really nicknamed as the Land of Poets simply because it possesses an incredibly beautiful nature and breathtaking views and sites. We cannot omit its picturesque towns and villages hugged by mountains and volcanoes, deserts and geysers, lagoons and salt flats. It’s the longest country in the world and the most developed one in Latin America. Its wine and olives are inseparable part of the life in the country and they (especially wine) are very cheap and affordable for everyone.

If you come there and know not more than 10 words in Spanish, for sure, in the beginning you will have very funny and entertaining moments with locals. It’s a general notion that songs always help us get accustomed to the sounding of a certain language. But don’t trust this method too much. If you are one of these adventurous mochileros (backpackers in English) you would prefer couchsurfing in “wildly beautiful” small villages like Imperial Alto or San Pedro de Atacama where you will surely start enriching your vocabulary and practising your Spanish. But above all, you will begin getting acquainted with the culture and traditions of the hospitable and warm locals who will always give you a shelter and share their food with you.

San Pedro is a small village situated in high plateau in the Andes. It is a unique place in the Atacama Desert surrounded by geysers, lagoons, weird rock formations, volcanoes and salt flats from all sides. It was created by two Australian guys in the middle of nowhere in 1940 who saw potential in the surroundings of this place and opened a shop. Thus it started attracting tourists and adventurers step-by-step who had and have various choices of natural sites like Lagunas Altiplánicas. The lagoons are situated at 4200 metres above the sea level and welcome their visitors with strong winds and temperatures below zero. They’re “grabbed” by high mountains and active volcanoes.

Another amazing site created by Mother Nature is la Valle de la Luna (or the Valley of the Moon) again in the Atacama Desert which is the driest desert in the world. The landscapes there are dotted by rugged and pink-streamed mountains and huge sand dunes which make it lunar and strange.  This moonlike place on Earth possesses too many rock formations or in fact, too many formations formed by dried lava together with quartz through the centuries. So, if you are brave enough take one of the numerous corridors and tunnels in between and enjoy this peculiar landscape of Chile, but never climb up the sand dunes no matter how attractive they are because they are a real danger as you can easily sink in them.

Last but not least, Chile hides another surprise for nature-lovers at a height of 4320 metres above the sea level in the Andes Mountains. What I mean is the geyser field El Tatio. There are two theories related to its name. Firstly, it means “crying men”. When locals found the geysers for the first time they named them after the surrounding rock where they saw lying men. Secondly, the name comes from Quechua word for oven. Most probably this is the correct name as the temperature of the water reaches 70-80 degrees centigrade. And why? Subterranean waters are created and they reach magma. As a result of this they start boiling and gases are created. The latter go straight to the surface and crackle it. Thus both water and gas sprinkle from there. At some places hot water is very close to the surface and that’s why tourists walk along tiny paths of stones arranged one after another. While at a time visitors should watch this natural phenomenon from a distance because geysers “explode” at a height of 7-8 metres.

The El Tatio geyser field consisting of more than 80 active geysers is the largest one in the southern hemisphere (third largest in the world) and the highest-elevation in the world. It is extremely beautiful at sunrise, at about 5am, when each of the geysers is surmounted by steam that condenses in the cold air. These plumes of steam are gone when it gets warmer.  After wandering along the geysers, happy visitors could have a rest and bathe in the hot springs and pools whose water has a temperature between 15 and 40 degrees centigrade depending on the depth.

Unfortunately, there was a Project for Harnessing Geothermal Power in 1960, i.e. a project for producing and generating energy from this unique place. A hole was dug and hot water streamed on the surface at a height of 60metres in the course of 24 days. Locals said geysers would disappear. In fact, they didn’t. But the water has been less than before since then. This project was renewed some 10-11 years ago but it met the heavy public resistance.

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