The Marble Cathedrals—Capillas de Marmol

20 Mar

We were awoken at 6.30 the next morning, for an early breakfast before boarding the bus to take us to the Marble Rock formations, having got to sleep at about 3 am that morning; I was surprisingly fresh, considering my ascent to the Hanging Glacier the day prior. Time gets a little confused here, having left at an early hour, and again arriving back at the Hotel in the early hours of the next day, I estimate this journey to have been a round trip of about 18 hours, this includes a break for lunch and the inevitable Wee stops. The road to the Marble Chapels, as it is more commonly known, was via a new highway being constructed that links Coyhaique to the southern parts of Chile called Austral, our first stop was at the viewpoint of the Cuesta del Diablo, here we enjoyed a beautiful Patagonian roadside morning Tea. This viewpoint shows a wide panoramic view of the Río Ibañez valley. Following morning Tea, we resumed our journey where we were to be amazed with the the imposing Cerro Castillo Mountain, a mountain with its high granite rock towers reaching up to 2,400 meters and glaciers on its slopes. We continued on south down the Australis highway, which bordered Laguna Verde and Bosque Muerto (Dead Forest), the Dead forest is a remnant of the 1991 Hudson Volcano eruption. Continuing on, the landscape changes into a beautiful lush forest, further on, our next stop was at the little port of Río Cofré. The Carretera Austral continues bordering the Rio Murta heading finally to Puerto Tranquilo in Lake General Carrera, a beautiful colourful picturesque town, from where our excursion to the majestic Marble Cathedrals was to begin.

A brief overview of the actual Rock formations, it is recorded that they were first discovered back in the 1800s, but have only been opened to the public less than 25 years ago, there are a number of opinions as to their origin, some say they were formed from wind and wave erosion, the version I prefer, that seems more logical, was given to me by a very knowledgeable tour guide, he states that they were actually caves thrust to the surface from the Ice age era, during one of Chile’s major earthquakes somewhere in the past. We debussed and proceeded down to the coastline a few tourist boats were waiting, I noticed a few more out in the water as well as a number of Kayaks, life jackets donned we boarded the boat for what we were assured, a memorable experience, The caves hug the coastline a few metres from shore and stretch about 2 kilometres in length, the caves appear suddenly, huge grey-white arches that dot the coastline. Our boat cut the motor as we approached the caves, and then we drifted through the caves, truly amazing, the Turquoise water silently rocking the boat as we looked in wonderment at the intricate swirls patterns that form the Marble walls, below the clear blue waters we could see the formations went deep down below, what we were witnessing from the surface, to imagine these monoliths were thrust to the surface from the Ice age was looking at history in real life. What further massive caves that lay below the surface must be extraordinary, a bygone era secreted in its watery haven. We left the shoreline caves and boated a little further out from the shore, where two massive mushroom shaped formations stood majestically above the waterline, shapes that were covered in greenery it was remarkable that caves burrowed through its structure at water level, these are commonly known as the Cathedral and The Church, huge marble arches support the mushroom like formation, which are the highlights of the Cathedral and Church. Gliding through the caves it was easy to see where their names originated from. It was silent and gave off a Spiritual aura, with imagination, the walls of the caves can appear like some ancient Religious paintings, preserved down over millions of years, we drifted through the caves for over an hour, marvelling in the creativity and endurance of Nature. The Capillas de marmol, as it is known in Spanish, was a truly great experience.

The tour was coming to a close as we boated back to shore; a beautiful Luncheon was prepared before we boarded the bus for the long journey back to the Hotel. The return trip was to be long, down through the mountains and valleys, isolated Farms were scattered around the lowlands, as dusk began to fall, the flickering of lamps began to appear from the few farms that electricity hadn’t reached yet. The Austral highway in this part of Patagonia is still under construction, with a long way still to go, the road is gravel and extremely winding, construction crews every few sections, step ravines and rock falls an ever present danger. We arrived home in the early hours of the morning and were welcomed with a delicious hot meal. We retired soon after to get what sleep we could, before the next adventure early in the morning, join me in an adventure that would take us to one of the last Continental Ice Shelfs.


The Emu



Posted by on March 20, 2016 in Uncategorized



35 responses to “The Marble Cathedrals—Capillas de Marmol

  1. auntyuta

    May 29, 2016 at 8:03 pm

    Amazing pictures! Simply wonderful.

    • aussieian2011

      May 30, 2016 at 8:15 am

      A very eyeopening experience Uta, to look at something that came from 20 million years ago was unbelievable, we are returning next year to visit the Atacama desert.
      Look forward to new pictures of Berlin.

      • auntyuta

        May 31, 2016 at 4:23 am

        Cheers, Ian. This coming Friday we’ll be taking off from Sydney Airport, arriving in Berlin Saturday afternoon.

        • aussieian2011

          June 3, 2016 at 9:59 am

          Best wishes and Bon voyage,
          Travel well and return safely.

  2. Sue Dreamwalker

    April 4, 2016 at 3:20 pm

    These were amazing.. and took my breath away.. I now want to visit Chile.. 🙂 haha… just to go into this amazing Cathedral made by the waves.. 🙂
    “It was silent and gave off a Spiritual aura”……… Now that I can believe as I am sure that is what I would feel from this sacred place..

    • The Emu

      April 5, 2016 at 3:13 am

      Hi Sue, these amazing formations were only discovered over a hundred years ago and weren’t known to the public then. less than twenty five years ago they were rediscovered when a new highway was being developed from North Chile to South Chile in the Patagonian region, they are a great tourist attraction now and protected.
      They do give off a Spiritual aura, to be in among them was to be transformed back to the ice age era.

      • Sue Dreamwalker

        April 6, 2016 at 1:00 pm

        One can only hope dear Ian that they remain frozen..Too much is now melting.. And if we do not alter our compass soon to the direction we are heading.. Much of our land mass will be underwater.. I am pleased you felt the Aura of the place.. Pure Magical Crystals of ‘Pure’ Water.. xx

        • The Emu

          April 7, 2016 at 9:55 am

          They are pure Marble Sue, when they broke the surface over a hundred years ago, they were thrust up from the Ice age, now they are perfect formations of that portion of the world, that made up the geological landscape back millions of years ago.
          An indescribable phenomenon.

  3. natswans

    April 3, 2016 at 11:47 am

    Simply breathtaking and magical Ian. Well worth the early rise amazing adventure !
    Great photo’s .

    • The Emu

      April 4, 2016 at 10:51 am

      The Marble Cathedrals were spectacular Sheila, a once in a lifetime experience, my photographs do not do justice to these monumental creations of Nature.

  4. lafayetteangel

    March 21, 2016 at 6:15 pm

    Their beautiful, :).

    • The Emu

      March 22, 2016 at 10:19 am

      Thank you Lafayetteangel

  5. Mél@nie

    March 21, 2016 at 3:19 pm

    wow of the total wow: impressive, stunning, splendid, gorgeous, etc… gracias, Juanito! 🙂

    • The Emu

      March 22, 2016 at 10:18 am

      Thank you Melanie, it was certainly a once in a lifetime experience I will never forget, that’s why I decided to write and share it.
      A wondrous experience which will continue next year.
      Kind regards and Best wishes.

  6. prenin

    March 21, 2016 at 10:36 am

    Amazing!!! 🙂

    Looks like it was well worth the trip!!! 🙂

    God Bless!


    • The Emu

      March 21, 2016 at 11:17 am

      Well worth the experience mate, going back next year.
      Hope you are recovering okay.

      • prenin

        March 23, 2016 at 10:46 am

        I’ll live! 🙂

        God Bless!


        • The Emu

          March 23, 2016 at 10:49 am

          We all do Prenin, till we wake up one day and realize, We don’t live, hehe

          • prenin

            March 24, 2016 at 1:04 pm

            Yup! 🙂

            Be interesting to see what’s coming! 🙂

            God Bless!


  7. davidprosser

    March 21, 2016 at 9:32 am

    The pictures are amazing Ian like the expedition itself was. Those caves look stunning.

    • The Emu

      March 21, 2016 at 9:44 am

      Thanks David, words cannot describe what my eyes were seeing.

  8. wonkywizard

    March 20, 2016 at 12:55 pm

    Nature’s awesome creativity – a tiring inspiring journey!

    • The Emu

      March 20, 2016 at 1:04 pm

      A very inspiring journey my Friend, words cannot describe what my eyes perceived.
      Thanks for the comment and visit.

  9. Colline

    March 20, 2016 at 11:31 am

    Wow! What an amazing sight Ian. I don’t think the photos do them justice – am I right?

    • The Emu

      March 20, 2016 at 11:39 am

      You are absolutely right Colline, the pics had to be downsized for Word Press, they were taken in Panoramic mode, I am hoping to hold an exhibition sometime in the future, even so, words cannot describe what my eyes saw, even the Hanging Glacier I mentioned in my last post, also the Continental Ice shelf in tomorrows post, absolutely unbelievable.
      Thanks for commenting Colline.

  10. Eddie Two Hawks

    March 20, 2016 at 11:20 am

    Gorgeous scenery Emu! What a breathing place to be.
    great photos, wonderful article

    • The Emu

      March 20, 2016 at 11:21 am

      Thanks Eddie, words could not describe what my eyes saw.

  11. derrickjknight

    March 20, 2016 at 11:17 am

    Again, good writing introduces amazing pictures

    • The Emu

      March 20, 2016 at 11:22 am

      Thanks Derrick, it was a truly magnificent sight, beyond words.
      Thanks for the visit and comment.

  12. GP Cox

    March 20, 2016 at 11:08 am

    So unique! It must be breathtaking to see with your own eyes!

    • The Emu

      March 20, 2016 at 11:16 am

      Hi gp, words cannot describe what my saw, truly unbelievable.
      Cheers mate.

      • The Emu

        March 20, 2016 at 11:16 am

        That should read my eyes saw.


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