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    R. P. Gustavo Le Paige Archaeological MuseumPaige Archaeological Museum Calama, Chile
    This museum houses a magnificent collection of some 380,000 pre-Columbian relics in the Atacameno culture, and named after Jesuit missionary Gustavo Le Paige, who founded the museum that now belongs to the Catholic University of the North. In 1955, Gustavo would set up San Pedro and start his pastoral duties, as well as become very interested in the Atacama culture and its history. It wasn't long before he began to visit the prehistoric cemeteries, workshops and other areas that had been frequented by the Atacamenians, picking up archaeological specimens of great historical significance. He and others would open the first archaeological museum in 1957 with the many relics that he had acquired thus far and included metals, lithics, textiles, mummies and ceramics. With the help of the Catholic University of the North, he would open his first pavilion in a museum centered in San Pedro in 1963, with his collection that had been discovered in his travels around the Atacama territory that dated from the origins of the Atacama culture and the arrival of the Spaniards. Today, that museum contains an exhibition hall, storehouse pavilion and research labs and library. In 1991, it would open the gold treasure room filled with many objects made from gold.

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    El TatioEl Tatio Calama, Chile
    El Tatio is a magnificent geyser field in the Andes mountains of Chile, that contains more than 80 active geysers that make this the biggest geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the third biggest in the world. Even though there are many geysers, none of them spout too high, with the highest seen so far about 18 to 20 feet. The average geyser eruption height here is about 2 feet, and the best time to visit and watch them is in the early morning around sunrise when every geyser is seen with a column of steam that has been condensed in the bitter cold mornings. The steam plumes disappear as the air warms up and it is quite possible to enjoy a hot soaking in one of the many geyser pools. Be sure to check with your guide since there are some areas where the geysers have been covered with a thin coating of mud that covers boiling mud water beneath it that could be very dangerous and extremely hot. You'll find some wreckage in the area, since at one time, they considered creating geothermal power, but that was long ago, although the government is again considering trying it in the face of such high gasoline costs. El Tatio mean old grandfather in English. In mid-September, 2009, a 200 foot permanent steam column became noticed and was found to be the results of damage done by prospection by GDN, a geothermal exploitation company that was owned jointly by the Chilean state holdings and an Italian energy consortium.

May 4, 2011