Bucket List: The Marble Caves
Welcome back to our bucket list blog section by VoyEdge RX! This blog section is chock -FULL of hand-curated places, activities and more for you to add to your bucket list. This week, our GM, Sasha, brought these incredible marble caves situated between Chile & Argentina to my attention through our IG @voyedgerx, and I knew I had to find out a little bit more about these places and share it here on the blog.
We’ll get into these places down below, but first, watch a short intro on the Marble Caves of Patagonia below.
What It Is: The Marble Caves (also known as ‘Cuevas de Mármol) are located in the Patagonian Andes, on a peninsula of solid marble. The unique geological formation sits in waters between both Argentina & Chile, and is only accessible by boat of kayak.
With the formations of the caves starting nearly 6,000 years ago, the lake (which sits on a large marble bed) began lapping away at the harsh rock formations and the result are the basalt caves which showcase a deep blue hue, that you see today. Although the marble itself isn’t blue, it reflects the colors from the water and salt deposits within the lake, which also change from green to blue throughout the year depending on water levels and the time of year.
The calcium carbonate itself has slowly eroded and now its vibrant walls are a reflection of some of the most other-worldly sights you can ever see!
How To Get There: Getting to the Marble Caves is not easy….first, you’ll have to fly in to toe Chilean city of Balmaceda from Santiago (2.5 hour flight) and then you’ll have to drive another several hours through twisty hills and a 120-mile single lane road before you reach the General Carerra Lake. Finally, you’ll have to hop on a ferry and float out to the caves for a 30-minute tour, or (if you’ve paid enough) you can drop a kayak and explore the caves yourself after a long arduous journey. To be honest, the caves couldn’t be MORE secluded, if they tried.
We think so….even if it is a completely aquatic adventure.
Another way to get there is this:
To get to the caves, one must embark on a long and difficult journey starting from a flight to the Chilean capital of Santiago. Visitors must then travel 800 miles on major highways to the next big city Coyhaique, followed by a 200-mile drive on rough dirt roads towards the lake.
When to Visit: The Marble Caves can be seen any time of the year, but for the most stunning times (And most consistent weather) you should aim to go from December through March. During the summer months in Chile & Argentina, the water levels are typically the lowest and the days provide the most sunlight, which obviously reflects and refracts into the caves, giving them a stunning showcase to any and all visitors. It truly is a once-in-a-lifetime spectacle.
If you can’t make it to the caves from December through March, don’t worry. You can still visit them in the spring and winter, even if the water levels are higher. This only means that the caves will showcase a deeper blue than other times of the year.
Tips for visiting:
(Courtesy of South America Travel)
Argentine travelers should bring their ID card. The rest of the formats may no longer be valid to cross the border. As an alternative, you can present your passport. Any foreign passengers traveling from Argentina to the Marble Caves should consult the conditions of crossing the border.
Bring some Dramamine with you for the journey! It’s quite the adventure getting to the Marble Caves and you will want to make sure you don’t have to worry about feeling sick while you’re on it. If long car rides or boats tend to make you a little queasy, pack some Dramamine in your bag and you’ll be ready to go!
Don’t forget to look down! While you should never look down when hiking up a tall mountain or climbing up a ladder, you should look down when you’re inside the Marble Caves. Do not miss the opportunity to spot distinct rock formations deep below the surface!
If the water level is low enough, you might be able to get out of the boat and walk some parts of the caves!
Why These Caves Should be on your bucket list: Dubbed, ‘Nature’s Sanctuary’ by the Italian-Argentinian explorer, Clemente Onelli, in his book Climbing the Andes, in 1896-1897, these caves have a lengthy history of being one of the most incredible places on the planet. The arduous journey out to these caves are also something that not everyone is able to do - which makes them more alluring to anyone looking to build their bucket list.
Lake Carrera itself, is currently under threat from development by the Chilean government, as Chile is looking to build FIVE hydro-electric damn in Patagonia to use as a resource for their growing economy. Of course, this is growing to affect the habitat of all of Patagonia and wildlife and other endangered species in the area, including that of Lake Carrera. The potential for these hydro dams could eventually call for the raising of power lines above (or near) the Marble Caves in the next 5-10 years, so getting to these caves should be a priority for those visiting close to Chile/Argentina.
All in all, what do you think?
Bucket-list worthy or not?
Have you been?
Tell us how they are and what you loved or didn’t love about them (and also how the journey to them was!).
Feel free to submit anything else on your bucket list to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org or leave a comment down below. See you out there!
~ Cam // email@example.com