Capillas De Marmol: Visiting Marble Caves in Puerto Rio Tranquilo
If you are in Chile’s Patagonia and would like to take few hours to visit jaw-dropping gorgeous marble caves, then you definitely want to head to Puerto Rio Tranquilo on the Carretera Austral. This beautiful town is on the shore of General Carrera Lake, the second largest lake in South America after Titicaca. In the further stretch of the lake, you will see Marble Caves that are completely made of marble. Its aesthetic architecture and beautiful surroundings have attracted many world travelers for a visit.
Overview of the Marble Caves
The Marble Caves are located on the General Carrera Lake in the Aysen Region, one of the most remote areas in Patagonia. They exist in three different forms, which are marble caves, the marble cathedral, and the marble chapels. All the caves were naturally formed over hundreds of thousands of years of wind erosion and the churning glacial water that wore down the marble monoliths, creating different shapes, colors, and curves that is appealing to look at.
How to visit the Marble Caves
To visit the Marble Caves, you first need to get to Puerto Rio Tranquilo on the southern part of the Carretera Austral. You can either hitchhike or take the bus from Coyhaique, Cochraine, or Chile Chico.
Once you arrive in Puerto Rio Tranquilo, you need to arrange a boat tour with the tour company that is located on the waterfront to take you to see the Marble Caves. Most tour companies offer the same tour for the same price, and they leave around 8 am or 9 am in the morning.
The boat leaves when it has a minimum of four people unless you are willing to pay for a private tour. I recommend that you go with the same company with the other travelers so you do not have to spend time waiting. I showed up in the morning at 8:50 am and saw a group of travelers waiting outside of the tour office on the very left for the tour, and I immediately booked with that one.
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Boat tour to the Marble Caves
The boat is small and we rode over the gentle waves and passed through tiny islands on the lake, with the wind coming our way and cold water occasionally splashing on our face. After ten minutes, the Marble Caves were in sight. At first glance, these caves look like small uninhabited islands made of marble rising from the water.
As we approached the caves, I saw a wavy structure with white, blue, yellow, and brown color. Parts of the caves were dotted with green and brown plants on the top.
It was an overcast morning so we could not see the beautiful rays of sunlight streaming into the caves. On a sunny day, the transparent blue color of General Carrera Lake will reflect on the caves owing to the sunshine, which adds more visual and dynamic to the Marble Caves.
When I visited in early December, the water level started rising but that did not prevent us from going inside to take a closer look at the unique formations. The water kept lapping on the marble blocks. The boat moved slowly in the tunnel and made stops for us to touch the caves, the water, and take pictures while our guide provided background information on the caves and its surroundings.
The tunnel is narrow and only one boat can go in at any given time. We left the first two rows empty so everyone could take turns to go to the front and get a close-up view of different parts of the cave.
It was amazing to see the caves from both the inside and the outside, which allowed us to be in awe of this natural masterpiece that deserves credit for its unexploited nature, artistic formations, and beautiful location.
There are kayaking tours that go around and inside the caves, and that will be an experience for another time.
While my main goal of visiting Puerto Rio Tranquilo was to take a tour to the Marble Caves, I loved Puerto Rio Tranquilo so much that I decided to extend my stay for another gorgeous and quiet day on the shore of Lago General Carrera. It is a place where I want to spend every waking hour to appreciate its out-of-the-world landscapes and tranquility. On a sunny day, the shimmering turquoise water and the relaxing vibe makes me want to move there.
Have you visited Marble Caves in Puerto Rio Tranquilo? Share you experience below!
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