Posts Tagged ‘Termals de Puritama’


4000m altitude has been reached, but it wasn’t easy. I’m lying, comfortable in my sleeping bag on a bed in Machuca village thinking how well I’ll sleep tonight.

Machuca village

Machuca village

Yesterday was meant to be a quick climb up to the thermal baths where I could relax for hours, acclimatising. It took me most of the day to get there. Today I was going to spend most of the day walking along a gorge but rather I climbed into the heavens, challenging myself to reach the next road sign before stopping. It was very slow going, but rewarding. Just by turning back I could see how high I was above the salt pan of the Salar de Atacama.

Looking back towards the saltpan

Looking back towards the saltpan

Looking back towards the saltpan

Looking back towards the saltpan

It is now clear to me that I’ll be taking a van to the high pass at the Bolivian border. Climbing from 2400m to 4600m in a day isn’t happening and I have better uses of my time. Sleeping at 4000m tonight will make me altitude ready for the Ruta de Lagunas in Bolivia.

I didn’t walk along the gorge today but I saw it from above, as did my drone. It was beautiful.

Guatin Gorge

Guatin Gorge

Guatin Gorge

Guatin Gorge

Guatin Gorge

Guatin Gorge

I love my lunch spot. A choice of sun or shade out of the wind in a little sandy space with a view out over the mountains.

Lunch spot

Lunch spot

I saw some more flamingos on a little lake, and I even saw some llamas.

Flamingo lake

Flamingo lake

The village I’m staying at is trying its hand at tourism. For me, it’s main inviting feature is that it’s at 4000m altitude. There’s a historic church that was closed.

Historic church at Machuca

Historic church at Machuca

It’s only 45km from San Pedro and on the way to the El Tatio geysers. Cars are faster than bikes and the tours don’t stop here. Makes it all the more peaceful for me. 🙂


I sat in the warm pool gazing up at the sun as it dropped below the canyon wall. The chain of warm water pools was nestled between reeds at the bottom of a beautiful canyon, and I had made it here by bike.

Termas de Puritama

Termas de Puritama

Termas de Puritama

Termas de Puritama

It was chilly in the breeze leaving the pool once the sun had left, so I left the warmth of tbe water and pedalled a few kms downhill to watch the light fade against the backdrop of the chain of mountains and volcanoes as I cooked dinner.

The Termals de Puritama are not on the road to Bolivia, but they are, strategically, at 3500m in altitude and thus a perfect destination for day 1 of altitude acclimatision. It was hard work climbing from 2400m at San Pedro to the springs. I had all day, and it was spectacularly beautiful looking back at the massive flats surrounded by mountains. I could see for hundreds of kilometres.

You could see for miles

You could see for miles

The road followed a river (which had water) uphill and then curved above the river as it became a canyon. There were multiple lookouts and little wind – time for the drone.

Looking back towards the salt pan from the drone

Looking back towards the salt pan from the drone

Looking upwards into the heights

Looking upwards into the heights

The night was clear and, like always here, there wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the stars were amazing. I went to bed at 8 and slept for 11 hours.