Top 8 Facts about the Marble Caves, Argentina/Chile
These are the most beautiful cave network in the world known as Cuevas de Marmol or Marble Caves. They were formed more than 6,000-year-ago through erosion by water.
The caves are found around Lake General Carrera of Patagonia, Southern Chile. They are also known as the Marble Cathedral because of the complex caves.
This natural wonder is made up of several caves, pillars and tunnels.
Lake General Carrera is found at the border of Chile and Argentina. The water around the caves are glistening azure and changes its colours depending on the season, weather and water level.
Here are the top 8 facts about the Marble Caves in Chile.
1. These idyllic caves are a result of water erosion
These caves were formed over 6,200 years ago. It happened after huge marble deposits on the edge of the General Carrerra Lake were eroded by water.
This resulted in the caves, tunnels and huge columns all made from marble. The marble on the water level slowly dissolved in water as it seeped through the small cracks.
Some of these amazing formations include the famous marble cathedral and the marble chapel. These magnificent formations are found on the west shore of the lake.
What is more, is the colour of the water around it. The rainbow-like colours change depending on the weather and season. The colour changes are a result of the dissolving glacial slit.
2. The Marble Caves change colours
The amount of light entering the cave and the water level of the lake is constantly changing. This makes each visit to the caves unique.
During spring, the water level of the lake is at its lowest point. The lake gets its water from the nearby glaciers, hence they will not have melted by then.
The walls of the caves constantly change too to different shades of blue. They change the colours from softer colours to navy blue.
When the glaciers melt, the colours change to cobalt blue. Some other times the water will reflect white or pink colours.
3. The same water that formed the Marble Caves could be its undoing
Marble is slightly soluble in water and easy to carve like most limestone. When the water in the lake raised, it slowly dissolved the marble.
Since the rocks have cracks on them, water seeps through them and widened the cracks. With time they broke off and dissolved in water.
With the constant erosion, the pillars supporting the caves may cave in with time. Looking at the caves from outside, the façade looks bigger and heavier than the pillars supporting it.
4. You have to go to Chile to explore the Marble Caves
The Marble Caves is found on the border of Chile and Argentina. To get a good look and explore the caves, you will need to cross over to the Chilean side.
In the past, one would get to the Marble Caves through Argentina through route 40. From Argentina, you will access the caves from the town of Los Antiguos. This town is about two miles from the Chilean border.
There are a number of companies that offer shuttle services to the caves as well as boats.
5. You need to get on a boat to explore the caves
To access the Marble Caves, only small boats are used to view and enter the Marble Caves. The caves are located in perfectly clear, stunning azure water.
Tourists access the caves in boats and get to see all the narrow and wide corridors of water. You will get to see the different themes of texture and colour.
The boat tours are only offered during the day. Small boats and kayaks are used because the passageways are narrow and small.
If the weather is bad, most tours get cancelled since it’s best to tour when the water is calm. Most tours end at 6 pm in the evening.
6. Trout and Salmon are fish species found in the water around the caves
The lake is not only home to the Marble Cave but also to fish. The most common fish found here are trout and salmon. There are also plants and other forms of aquatic life.
The weather around this region of Chile and Argentina is humid and cold. However, the regions around the lake has different weather ranging between sunny and warm nature.
7. The Marble Cathedral is a natural wonder
The Marble Cathedral is found on the shore of General Carrera Lake in Patagonia, Chile. This natural rock formation got its name due to the shape of the fissures. The ceiling resembles that of a church.
This structure is only accessible by boat. Most of the cave is underwater and cannot be seen. On a bright day, one can see through the clear turquoise water.
It has taken thousands of years of erosion to form the marble cathedral. The shape of the cathedral may change with time due to water erosion.
Marble rocks are soft and easily soluble in water. With time the rocks chip and dissolve in water.
8. The best time to visit the caves is in December
The Marble Caves can be visited at any time of the year. For the ultimate experience, a view of the marble caves from the Chilean side is advisable.
The best time to visit is between December and March. Water levels during this time are low and there is enough sunlight in the caves.
With enough sunlight, the caves bounce back the light and create a rainbow of beautiful colours. The rest of the year, the water level at the lake is higher causing a deeper shade of blue.