Off the Grid South America The Outlandish

What the Hell are Marble Caves? | Chile

Marble Caves Chile - Marble Caves Tour Boat

I’m reluctant to visit any place famed for being colorful. I know this sounds oddly specific, but I’ve seen too many unrealistic photos of pink lakes and rainbow mountains that are quite common in real life. The Marble Caves in Chile (Capilla de Mármol) are kind of an “as seen on Instagram” attraction. The suckers are no easy feat to get to, and there are plenty of people who know their way around an Instagram filter, you know? Going is taking the risk that, in actuality, the Marble Caves are dull and flat.

I ended up at the Marble Caves by accident. I was escaping back to Chile before Argentina bankrupted me. Puerto Rio Tranquilo just happened to be on the other side of the border and my ferry to Chiloe was a few days away. Rather than loitering for the day, we decided to explore the Marble Caves. The history of the Marble Caves spans 6,000+ years with waves carving the caves out of calcium carbonate. The brilliant blue glacial lake is the perfect mirror for time worn splendor. So are the Marble Caves in Patagonia worth the trip?

Check out my photos from the Marble Caves in Chile along with information on booking a Marble Caves tour, kayaking, and getting to Puerto Rio Tranquilo below!

Navigating the Marble Caves in Chile

Marble Caves Chile - Tour Boat

Marble Caves Chile - Standing on the DockMarble Caves Chile - Inside the Caves

Marble Caves Chile - Marble Caves Tour Boat

Marble Caves Chile - Outside the Caves

Marble Caves Chile - Outside the Caves

Marble Caves Chile - Closeup of the Rocks

Marble Caves Chile - Rock Formations in the Caves

Marble Caves Chile - Inside the Caves

Marble Caves Chile - The Cathedral

Want to Visit the Marble Caves?

Worth it?: The Marble Caves look pretty cool, right? I’d never seen anything quite like them. That being said, I don’t think the Marble Caves are worth a trip on their own. Go if you’re already venturing along the Carretera Austral and Puerto Rio Tranquilo is an easy stop.

How to Get to Puerto Rio Tranquilo: Puerto Rio Tranquilo is a tiny town on the Chilean side of Lago Gral Carrera. You can get to Puerto Rio Tranquilo by bus from Coyhaique (4.5 hours) or by minibus from Chile Chico (3.5 hours). It’s best to take the Marble Caves tour in the morning when lighting is at it’s best, but you can stay the night somewhere cheap and cozy in Rio Tranquilo.

Where to Book a Marble Caves Tour: The easiest way to see the Marble Caves is by boat from Puerto Rio Tranquilo. There are several operators offering boat tours of the Marble Caves for 10,000 CLP ($15 USD) per person, but groups can negotiate a reduced rate. If you prefer, it is also possible to kayak the Marble Caves for 35,000 CLP ($50 USD).  For more information on planning your independent travel in Patagonia, grab a Lonely Planet Guidebook.

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The Marble Caves in Chile are an often overlooked highlight of Patagonia. Got some time to wander? Here's all you need to know about visiting the Marble Caves!

What’s the most colorful place you’ve ever traveled? Did it live up to your expectations? Tell us about it in the comments below!

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  • Reply
    Melissa Huckson
    January 21, 2018 at 6:05 pm

    Question: roughly how far offshore are the caves? I may be in the area with a whitewater kayak (not the most efficient for paddling across broad expanses of flatwater) and am considering just paddling to the caves rather than doing a boat tour.

    • Reply
      Taylor Record
      January 22, 2018 at 7:20 am

      Hi Melissa. Glad you’ll get the chance to go! The map is saying about 5km by land, and I guess the water route will be a bit further. That being said, I have heard of people doing this, so you’d have no problem! In fact, I’m sure kayaking is a cooler experience all around. Hope you enjoy it!

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