Marble Cathedrals, Chapel and Caves.
Where is the Marble Cathedral?
The Marble Cathedrals (Catedrales de Mármol) are located in Chilean Patagonia, in the General Carrera Lake (Lago General Carrera). This lake is shared with Argentina, where it is named as Buenos Aires Lake (Lago Buenos Aires) and is the second largest lake of South America. This place is at about 220 km from Coyahique (the main Capital of the Chilean Patagonia), in the Aysén region.
Arriving through the Carretera Del Sur (Austral Road) -that has amazing views while you go all over it – the Marble Cathedrals are between two small towns: Puerto Eulogio Sanchez and Puerto Rio Tranquilo. You can also access to them from Argentina, starting your expedition from Los Antiguos, another small town situated at about 134 km from this place.
The closest airport is Balmaceda (near Coyhaique), with flights to Santiago de Chile and Punta Arenas.
What is special about Marble Caves?
The main group of islands is The Cathedral, The Chapel and The Caverns. These names have been given to them by the local and expeditionary people, not only due to the size they have, but also because the shape of their lower parts, which seem to be cathedrals’ columns. Their origin dates from thousands of years, when most actual Patagonian lakes were occupied by glaciers. These ice formations, with their slow movement through the years and combined with other natural courses, left us innumerable wonderful landscapes to enjoy.
One of them is this group of amazing large rocks you can find at the occidental side of the lake. They were initially formed by geological processes. The rock in this area of Patagonia started its formation as a sedimentary rock. After being under high temperatures -between 300 – 400° C – and high pressure –about 10-15 km underground- marble was formed. Once the glaciers went back, the water was in charge of making these beautiful shapes and caverns through hundreds of years, by a chemical reaction between the composition of the water and marble.
They are mainly composed of calcium carbonate with amazing lines drawn by nature with mineral impurities.
This sanctuary is considered in need of protection not only because of its geological value, but also because of the community´s identity around them. Due to their composition, Marble cathedrals are very sensitive to be deteriorated by human interventions.
How do I get to Marble Caves?
Puerto Tranquilo is the main place where most boats depart for this amazing adventure. Before or after starting your journey to the lake, you can enjoy local meals at restaurants with a great view of the lake. The best seasons to visit this marvelous place are autumn and spring. The steep and wooded cliffs around the Cathedrals make us getting to them only by boat. The trip takes about an hour and a half.
Get ready with your cameras! A few minutes after leaving the port, you will have a great view at distance about the shapes these rock formations have. In the middle of the lake you will appreciate the Cathedral and the Chapel. At this time of the year the levels of water might allow you to go inside the caverns by kayak or small vessels.
Are the Marble Caves worth it?
Of course! During the morning the views are probably the best. You will be bedazzled by the colors given by the natural light reflected in the turquoise water and caverns. This color has been given to water because of its glacier origin and the purity that it has. The crystalline water also gives you the chance of looking at the deepness of these formations and their different colors.
All this awesome views combined with the music water plays against these beautiful walls transmit a unique sense of peace. The majesty of the environment is impressive: The Andes around the lake surrounded by dense forest and with these beautiful marble formations in the water create a real sanctuary of nature.
This is a breathless experience you will never forget! You must not miss this place if you would like to relax and enjoy what nature has been capable to create for us. You will not leave this place without being aware and amazed about the unlimited beauty of our Planet, which we have to protect and preserve as much as possible.
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