Deep in Chilean Patagonia there are stunning and strange rock formations that will leave you breathless.
The Marble Caves or Catedral de Mármol as the locals know it, are a series of naturally sculpted caves off the coast of General Carrera Lake in the heart of Chilean Patagonia.
The site is comprised of three massive formations: The Cathedral, the Chapel and the Cave. To get there is not easy, but its certainly worth it.
Located just a few meters from the shore of a glaciel lake, the Marble Caves are a geological and natural wonder. Due to the dense forested and steep slopes behind it, the compound is only accesible by boat.
The estructures are made of young marble that is not strong enough and it’s been dissolving by the glaciel waters in a process that, scientists believe, started about 10 to 15 thousand years ago, when the glacier that covered the entire area of the lake started to melt.
One of the first things that catches the eye of the visitor is the marvelous variety of turquiose, blues and greens of the water.
Then, when you are a little closer, you see the whites, greys, purples, browns of the marble stones, which unique contours shape stunning compositions.
The ethereal blue and turquiose from the water reflections, and the sound of water gently splashing against the walls will make you feel like you’re dreaming.
Most of the formations are under water but the lake is often clear enough to see what lies beneath.
During summer months, meltwater from the surrounding mountains causes the lake to rise. While in winter the water retreats revealing parts of the caves that are usually underwater.
I recommend to visit them in the morning because the sun light hits directly on the formations making the colors of walls and water look even more amazing.
How to get to the Marble Caves?
The Marble Caves are located in General Carrera Lake, next to Puerto Tranquilo town, 240 kms south from Coyhaique, capital of the Region de Aysen.
Getting to Coyhaique
The easiest way to get to Coyhaique is by plane from Santiago. You can also get there by land following the Carretera Austral, but this will be a couple of days driving south.
You also have to consider southern Chile geography. You will have to go through rural ferries to cross stretches of water at some points.
The road is very long, there are few gas stations and far apart from each other, so remember to fill up at every opportunity.
To visit the Marble Caves, you can rent a car in Coyhaique or hire a day-tour. The caves are a 4 to 5 hour drive, weather depending, south to Puerto Tranquillo. The road is under construction so expect delays. Since its fairly far away all tours depart early morning.
Buses Don Carlos: Departures every day at 7:00 am from Coyhaique to Cochrane.
Buses Santibáñez: Departures Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays at 16:00 to Puerto Tranquilo
Buses Sao Paulo: Departures every day at 9:00 am from Coyhaique to Cochrane.