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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 the 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 go on a tour of the Marble Caves. The intricate network of caves have been carved out of calcium carbonate by waves over the last 6,000+ years. 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 our photos from the Marble Caves in Chile along with essential travel information 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 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 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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