This post is part 8 of 18 in the series Carretera Austral Travel

The Marble Caves are one of the most famous and popular natural attractions in the Patagonia region of southern Chile. Located along a stretch of shoreline on vast Lago General Carrera (the largest lake in Chile), these marble deposits have been eroded and carved by wind-whipped waves on the lake for more than 6,000 years resulting in marble walls pock-marked with shallow caves and standalone monolithic formations including Catedral de Marmol (Marble Cathedral ) and Capilla de Marmol (Marble Chapel), a formation that inspires the most commonly used Spanish name for this collection of natural wonders.

marble chapel tour puerto rio tranquilo

The Capilla de Marmol (Marble Chapel) is a highlight of Marble Caves tours.

We took boat tours to the Marble Caves twice–once from Bahia Mansa near Puerto Rio Tranquilo along the Carretera Austral and again from Puerto Sanchez–touring many different areas of these amazing formations. Here are our favorite shots of the famous Marble Caves of Chile including formations around Panichini Island, the Marble Cathedral, and the Marble Chapel.

cavernas de marmol puerto sanchez

Boat tours from Puerto Sanchez begin with an exploration of marble formations like these on Panichini Island. In some cases, your tour boat will be able to nose into these sculpted spaces.

marble caves puerto sanchez

Boat tours from Puerto Sanchez begin with an exploration of marble formations like these around Panichini Island. Some formations seem precariously thin…

cavernas de marmol chile

Naturally eroded marble formations around Panichini Island in Lago General Carrera in southern Chile.

marble caves puerto sanchez chile

Our RYS Patagonia Aventura Tours boat captain (and canine sidekick) ease us into a naturally eroded marble cave around Panichini Island during our Marble Caves tour from Puerto Sanchez.

inside marble caves chile

Beautiful marble formations around Panichini Island in Lago General Carrera in southern Chile.

marble cave formations

As your tour boat noses into the shallow caves, be sure to take a close look at the surface of the marble to appreciate the intricate patterns created over thousands of years.

marble caves puerto rio tranquilo

A stretch of naturally eroded caves that form the heart of the Marble Caves formations on Lago General Carrera where the water is an otherworldly shade of blue thanks to mineral deposits from the melting glaciers that feed it.

boat tour marble caves chile

It takes patience and skill (and windless conditions) to navigate tour boats safely into and out of the Marble Caves.

marble caves erosion art

Eroded marble formations feature swirls, divets, and bands of color.

marble caves rio tranquilo chile

More than 6,000 years of water erosion have created the formations that continue to be carved out and changed.

marble caves puerto sanchez tour

Changing water levels mean that erosion comes in the form of shallow caves and also in the form of overhead sculpture.

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You can see why the Marble Caves is one of the most famous and most popular natural wonders in Chile.

marble caves tour

Boat tours often pause inside shallow formations to give travelers a chance to quietly appreciate the natural beauty around them.

cavernas de marmol rio tranquilo

Green glacier-fed water and marble textures and swirls combine to create natural beauty and natural art.

marble caves rio tranquilo tour

It’s best to take your Marble Caves tour on a sunny day when rays of light reflect the color of the water up onto the marble.

marble caves lago general carrera Chile

Some formations take the shape of delicate layers that made us think of an elaborately frosted cake.

Catedral de Marmol chile

The Catedral de Marmol (Marble Cathedral) is a dramatic standalone formation just offshore and a highlight of all Marble Caves tours.

puerto rio tranquilo marble caves

The Catedral de Marmol (Marble Cathedral) formation has many pass-throughs that kayakers can explore.

formations marble caves chile

On a sunny day, the milky blue color of the glacier-fed water of Lago General Carrera is reflected onto the marble formations.

Catedral de Marmol Marble Cathedral Chile Patagonia

The Marble Cathedral formation is a geological wonder including lovely marble swirls around its base. In the right light, the Marble Cathedral almost seems painted.

kayak marble cathedral chile

Kayakers spend a lot of time exploring into and around the Marble Cathedral formation.

boat tour marble cathedral

With water erosion a constant reality, the standalone Marble Cathedral will not last forever.

marble chapel lago general carrera

The majestic Capilla de Marmol or Marble Chapel formation in Lago General Carrera in southern Chile.

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A naturally eroded window in the Marble Chapel formation.

See more of these natural wonders in our video, below, shot during one of our boat tours of the Marble Caves on Lago General Carrera in southern Chile.

 

And don’t miss our post about how to Find the Best Marble Caves Tour including crucial adventure travel information about Marble Caves tours from Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Bahia Mansa, and Puerto Sanchez.

 

Here’s more about travel in Chile

Here’s more about Carretera Austral Travel

Here’s more about Patagonia Travel

See all of our Photo Essays

 


Series Navigation:<< How to Choose the Best Marble Caves Tour – Puerto Rio Tranquilo vs. Puerto Sanchez, ChileThe Quirkiest Stop on the Carretera Austral – Caleta Tortel, Chile >>

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