Start of the acclimatization trek - San Pedro de Atacama (2440m) to Machuca (4050m).
Gentle walks along the rivers Rio San Pedro and Rio Grande which we had to cross a lot of times. As there are no bridges each cross was associated with wet shoes and feet (wet feet in the desert ...?!). Interesting for chemists: We did a barbecue first night. Afterwards we burnt some wood we found along the river. After the initial and unavoidable yellow flame of burning carbon and sodium the colors suddenly changed to blue (arsenic) and green (copper), something which can only happen in an area full of minerals containing these metals. Therefore the water of the river must be processed with reserve osmosis before drinking it.
In the town Rio Grande they grow garlic with great taste. No wonder, having in mind the high content of arsenic in the local water ...
Machuca, the final destination, had four inhabitants the night we spent there, including Hans and myself. From Machuca we went to El Tatio, the highest existing field of geysers in the world (4320m). We built there our camp and spent another night in the tents. The geysers are most active at sunrise. It is a fascinating natural spectacle to see the steam coming out of hundreds of wholes in the ground. One hour after sunrise everything is gone and almost nothing is to see any more.
After a short rest back in San Pedro we will continue our acclimatization program with the climb of the first peak of the expedition: The active Lascar Volcano (5605m) scheduled for Nov. 28th. A first fitness test, keep fingers crossed!