Visiting Chile’s Capillas de Mármol caves: a how-to guide

Take a boat ride tour of the Marble Caverns on Lago General Carrera to get up close and personal with these mesmerising natural structures.

Some of the world’s most jaw-dropping cave photography comes from the Capillas de Mármol in southern Chile. The swirling blue and white patterns that melt across this stretch of three caves on Lago General Carrera are truly not to be missed.

Make the most of a visit to this unforgettable destination with This is Chile’s guide to planning your trip to the Capillas de Mármol.

About the caves

The Capillas de Mármol are located on South America’s second largest lake, Lago General Carrera, in Chile’s Aysén Region. This enormous lake is a striking turquoise color thanks to its runoff water from several nearby glaciers.

The cave formations of the Capillas de Mármol are the result of thousands of years of erosion. Glacier water has worn down on these large blocks of marble over time, forming the beautiful curves found in the caves today.

Visiting the caves involves an hour-long boat ride tour that departs from the small lakefront town of Puerto Río Tranquilo. You’ll find dozens of excursion organizers lined up along the shoreline ready to depart for the caves. Each boat takes approximately five passengers at a cost of around US$ 15 (CLP 7,000) per person. You can also arrange a private tour for around US$ 75 (CLP 35,000).

Getting there

The best lighting for photographing the Capillas de Mármol is at sunrise. For this unforgettable experience, arrange your boat ride in the evening before staying the night in Puerto Río Tranquilo.

The easiest way to reach Puerto Río Tranquilo is by renting a car in Coyhaique, the capital city of the Aysén Region. The cost of a car rental for the day starts at around US$ 100 (CLP 50,000). The beautiful drive from Coyhaique to Puerto Río Tranquilo along the Carretera Austral takes about five hours.

Many tour companies in Coyhaique also offer all-inclusive excursions to the Capillas de Mármol that include the boat ride tour of the caves and roundtrip transportation. Packages start at US$ 75 (CLP 35,000) and can be booked in downtown Coyhaique.

Daily buses from Coyhaique stop in Puerto Río Tranquilo on their way to Cochrane. The six hour bus ride is offered by the bus companies Buses Sao Paulo, Acuario 13, Don Carlos, Aguilas Patagónicas, and Sabra.

Buses to Puerto Río Tranquilo are also available daily from Chile Chico. The companies Loreto San Martin, Buses Eca, and Buses Seguel make the five hour trip daily.