El Tatio geysers protected by Chilean government

The world’s highest geyser field, a tourist favourite and one of the wonders of the Andes, joins 17 million hectares of safeguarded land in Chile.

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The El Tatio geysers in the North of Chile will become part of the 22 per cent of Chilean territory which is designated conservation land, President Sebastián Piñera has announced.

The geysers, located 95 kilometers from San Pedro de Atacama, are one of Northern Chile’s premier tourist attractions, receiving an estimated 100,000 visitors every year.

At dawn each morning, hundreds of tourists watch the great columns of steam and hot water rise in the sub-zero temperatures at an altitude of more than 4,000 meters, the highest geyser field in the world.

The Pacific islands of Salas y Gómez, a marine park situated 3,500 kilometers off the Chilean coast, have also been named part of the environmental zone, as has Cerro San Lorenzo, a 3,700 meter peak located in southern Chile’s North Patagonian Ice Fields.

The inclusion of the Salas y Gómez islands and their 150,000 km2 of surrounding ocean “will create the largest marine park in Latin America”, said Carlos Gaymer, a researcher from the Universidad Catolica del Norte, in national title La Tercera.

President Piñera announced the decision at the launch of a range of environmental institutions, including a new Department of Biodiversity and Protected Areas, according to Chilean newspaper El Mercurio.

Environment Minister Maria Ignacia Benitez explained in La Tercera that this Department will “establish a new way to manage these areas and set specific parameters for the protection of biodiversity.”

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