The Marble Cathedral

marble-island-by-neil-wilkieThis amazing, one-of-a-kind geological formation, is located at the southern far end of the world, in that charming, wild and remote region of America known as Patagonia.

An intricate network of caves carved out of carbonate rock overlooks the crystal clear waters of Lago General Carrera, one of the largest lakes in South America, shared between Chile and Argentina (where people call it Lago Buenos Aires).

catedrales-de-marmol-by-pablo-necocheaIts bright turquoise color is due to the clear skies of Patagonia and to a peculiar silt carried by the water produced by the melting of the glaciers.
The walls of this caves are streaked and sinuous and were created by the erosive motion of the waves which has been going on for more than 6,000 years.
What makes these caves even more spectacular is the blue shade that the reflection of the lake water gives them. Its hue and intensity change as the waters rise and deepen following the seasonal cycles of the melting of the glaciers, making every visit different throughout the year.

When the depth of the lake and the wave motion permit it, a small boat can take you inside the caves allowing a closer observation of this impressive natural wonder and its vivid colors.
dscf2377-by-dominic-sagarThe larger formations have been given a name: La Capilla (the Chapel), La Catedral (the Cathedral) and La Cueva (the Cave).

Reaching this place is not a piece of cake, but it’s definitely worth it. The closest airport is located in Balmaceda (56km / 40mi from Coyahique). From here, the mighty Carretera Austral, a road which is mostly unpaved (an off-road vehicle is advised) and crosses 190km (120mi) of natural reserves, rocky peaks, glaciers and infinite steppes, will bring you to the lake.

A fantastic on-the-road trip through the wonderful and immaculate lands of Patagonia!

Picture credits:
DSCF2439 by Dominic Sagar (CC BY 2.0)
DSCF2379 by Dominic Sagar (CC BY 2.0)
DSCF2369 by Dominic Sagar (CC BY 2.0)
DSCF2377 by Dominic Sagar (CC BY 2.0)
Marble Caves by Dominic Sagar (CC BY 2.0)
Catedrales de Marmol (Lago Gral Carrera) by Pablo Necochea (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Texture:Cave by Gabriel White (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Marble Island by Neil Wilkie (CC BY-NC 2.0)
DSCF2370 by Dominic Sagar (CC BY 2.0)
Catedral de Marmol by Gripe1976 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Cavernas de Marmol by Gripe1976 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
marble cathedral by Javier Vieras (CC BY 2.0)
Catedrales de Marmol by Mariano Mantel (CC BY-NC 2.0)
Màrmol by Annais Ferreira (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

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