Marble Caves- Chile (Patagonia region)

February 2023- Chile

(Note: this post contains unedited, colorful images and videos – best viewed on a screen that allows you to enjoy the incredible beauty of Mother Nature)

Group tours are just not our thing.  We try to find ways to explore on our own.  We try to avoid being bunched up with selfie-sticks and loud visitors.  But sometimes it is just necessary.  This is one of those times, and it was well worth it. We were quite glad we booked the tour and spent three hours exploring this natural phenomenon.  But it took some extra driving and planning to make it happen.

The Marble Caves are located on Lago General Carrera (aka Lago Buenos Aires) in Chile.   Most people visit the site  using a boat tour from Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile.  We passed through that town and found it to be very crowded, with tour operators hawking and soliciting on every corner.  We grabbed some empanadas and looked at a map.  It showed that a lesser known launch leaves from across the lake at Puerto Sanchez.  The village appeared to be very small and difficult to access.  Now, that is more our style.  The drive to this location was incredible; a dirt road with twists, turns, and amazing views through the dense forest and glimpses of Patagonia across the lake.


We arrived in the afternoon and reserved our spot on the only tour boat for the next morning.  Then we camped on the public beach and enjoyed the tranquil blue waters lapping at the shore.  The boats were tied off to a makeshift dock and also pushed up into the sand.  Pacha and Nica explored the dock, along with the beach, the park and met the neighborhood dogs.  It was a lovely afternoon, with peaceful water and Patagonia on the horizon.  But the sunset was truly amazing.  Mother Nature sent us a true gift for our evening views.


The next morning we walked the few steps to the dock to meet our guides, adjusted our required life jackets and settled into our seats for the trip across the lake.  The first stop was the abandoned ships from the old mining operation nearby.  This mine was the largest producer of lead, zinc and copper in Chile at one time.  Now it is too expensive to ship the product from here and the veins have been nearly used up.  The operation closed down and left buildings, machinery and boats.

Then the twelve-person boat motored across the blue water lake to see the first glimpse of the beautiful marble. We watched the rocks grow closer and looked at the plants growing on the top layer of soil.

Our guide spoke (in Spanish) about the composition of the rocks, the use of the materials and the fish in the lake.  We picked up on some of it, but mostly we just enjoyed the beauty and peacefulness of this place.  With each blink of an eye, the colors of the rocks, the water and the sky interacted differently and offered new perspectives.

As our small boat drew closer to the crags and crevices, we saw more of the amazing colors and structures in the rocks.  The erosion from the water has formed many beautiful curves and caverns.  The caves are formed of mostly calcium carbonate (very soft) with veins of granite and other minerals.

The boat drew closer and closer to the sheer walls, and then suddenly, we were inside of a cavern! The guide continued to describe the natural beauty, and we continued to stare in amazement.

The effect of the water, lapping against the walls of rock produced a peaceful noise and an incredible array of colors.  The captain shut off the engine and we were enveloped by the beauty of amazing colors, sounds and temperatures.  As the light entered into the cavern from different angles, it changed the look of the rocks and the water.

The boat motored out of that cavern and continued along the rocky shoreline of this miraculous island.  We looked into more caverns and observed more colorful formations.  Then our guide handed out hard hats and said we were headed in!!  We were able to step off the boat, right into a narrow passageway leading through the eroded rock walls.  We could feel the cold marblish walls and rubs our hands over the bumps and ridges of time!

After exiting the cave and returning to the boat, the guide explained to us that the greatest cause of damage to these beautiful formations is the force of water.  The water is eating away the rocks, licking at the softer portions of the stone (calcium carbonate) and eroding away the very structures that we were looking at.  The caves themselves are caused by erosion, over time.  The passageways are simply eroded by waves and wind.  The precarious island supports are being eroded away, slowly by the forces of nature.


Eventually the structure that supports this granite rock will be eroded.  And then the stone face of a dog, staring at the peaks of the Patagonian Andes, will crumble into the lake.  Do you see the dog face in this large rock?

The boat turned, waved hello to another boat that had just arrived from the crowded town on the other side of the shore.  We smiled and realized that our extra driving distance gave us the opportunity to arrive early to see these structures.  There was a trail of boats approaching from the far shore.  Our choice had put us closer, giving us the opportunity to explore the area slowly and peacefully….  and before the heavy load of daily tourist boats arrived.  We were happy with our decision, and overcome with the beauty of this amazing place.


Marble Caves will always be a beautiful memory for us.  We feel gratitude and joy to have experienced places like this on our journey.  Thank you for following along with us as we explore the Americas.


3 thoughts on “Marble Caves- Chile (Patagonia region)

  1. WOW! Can this island be kayaked? Looks like a beautiful place to enjoy from a smaller yak. Thank you for sharing. Another place on my bucket list…….

  2. Beautiful rocks, water, mountains and story of discovery! Thanks Geneva and Mike.
    John Rogers

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