El Tatio Geysers (on the Atacama Extension):

At sunrise we were high in the Puna, the area between the volcanoes at over 13,000 above sea level. This is a geologically active area where cooling magma chambers lay close to the surface of the earth. Before the morning wind and dawn's light, the geyser field is alive with plumes of vapor.

We explored this area by foot and van. We could feel the power of nature beneath a thin shell of rock; this place has a primitive feel. Nearby, we saw exotic animals, the vicu¤a, the cameloid of the high plateau, with a child-like face; and vizcachas, looking like a cross between a rabbit and a kangaroo rat, dancing and bounding about the rocks like characters in a madcap cartoon.

We were all a little giddy and breathless as we ate our breakfast amidst the steam and rushing bubbles, under the brow of the ever present Andes, all jagged peaks and volcanoes, all snow-capped. Perhaps it was the thin air that made us feel we were standing on the edge of world, at the point of creation, or perhaps for just a moment, just before dawn, we truly were…