Have you ever wondered where you can find the most picturesque cave network in the world? Many travel experts would point you to Chile’s Patagonia region where the spectacular Marble Caves reside. This natural attraction features a complex network of water filled caves, situated in General Carrera Lake, which is South America’s second largest. The Marble Caves of General Lake Carrera are an official Chilean nature sanctuary. The two most popular caverns of the network include the Marble Cathedral and Marble Chapel.
Because of the remote location of the Marble Caves, getting to this cave system is not straightforward. The caves are in the southernmost tip of Chile. Most visitors take a flight from the country’s capital Santiago to Coyhaique City, which is the nearest city to the attractions. From Coyhaique, you will need to head 200 miles south and drive on dirt roads to reach General Carrera Lake. Even if the journey to the caves is longer, the trip is definitely worth doing.
The Marble Caves’ main draw is its distinct geological formation and unparalleled beauty. Everyone who visits here is in great awe of how the light reflected by the clear azure water creates a visually stunning display on the marble walls. There are no artificial light effects or machinery – everything is a work of nature and the ultimate director that sets everything in place. The magical water filling the cave is originally from glaciers that resided in the western section of the lake. According to geologists, this crystal clear water possesses the unearthly blue color due to the presence of glacial silt.
The Marble Caves, as the name suggests, are composed of monoliths of marble. It sits at the center of the lake, which actually serves as boundary for Chile and Argentina. The solid marble feature and undulating patterns found in the caves are products of continuous wave erosion against the calcium carbonate minerals that started 6,000 years ago. Today, the Marble Caves are considered to have one of the biggest marble deposits in the world.
This incredible cave system attracts a lot of tourists including professional photographers from all over the world. But even if you are not a professional, bringing a waterproof camera is certainly not a waste. Depending on the weather and time of your visit, expect that there will always be variations on the lighting effects and water color as the light exposure and water level in the cave change regularly.
You will need to ride a small boat to gain access to the caves. A number of visitors prefer to kayak through the caves when the waters are calm enough. There is also a local company that offers a 30-minute cave exploration tour. However, tour schedules heavily depend on water and weather conditions. During early spring, the water level drops to its lowest level because the glaciers have not melted yet. After touring the cave network and taking memorable photos, you also have the option to join the anglers for an enjoyable fishing trip around the General Carrera Lake, which are abundant with salmon and trout.