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Sacred Beauty

 Estimated reading time: 2 min. Texts Photos Karina Jozami Texts Photos Karina Jozami
Marble Chapels in Lake Carrera

Declared sactuaries, the Capillas de Mármol (marble chapels), located in Lake General Carrera, are one of those strange formations expressing the esthetic perfection of nature.

After passing by Pasarela, we took the ferry to cross the joing of Lake Carrera and Lake Bertrand and, a few kilometers ahead, the signposts reading “Las Capillas de Mármol” began to appear. Before even spotting them, we stopped to take photographs of the Carrera, which was getting bluer and more beautiful with the sunshine in the sky.
We had the data. We had been told that we had to get to a point located before the Tranquilo River port and ask about Pedro Contreras in order to see the chapels.
We spotted the entrance and began to go down along a path that got deep into a wood up to the shore. The Contreras' house was silent and hidden, with some boats moored next to it.
Marble Chapels in Lake Carrera
We were welcomed by Johnny, Pedro's son, who was already drinking some mate and eating some “calzones rotos”, hand-made local pies. But as it was not dark yet, we resolved to share some mate when we returned and we got ready to leave immediately.

The Richness of Trapananda

We sailed across the blue waters of the Chelenko, the name given by the natives to the Carrera, for half an hour.
Marble Chapels in Lake Carrera
Johnny led the boat slowly towards the first formation, a huge rock that would appear to be rough and dark. But once we went around it, we could appreciate the intricate marble galleries that are unveiled before they get deep into the lake.
These wonderful natural architectural works are originated by a solid marble peninsula, a 300-meter coastline strip where a sequence of caves come off from the surface of the water mirror.
Marble Chapels in Lake Carrera
The persistent erossion of the waters hitting on the rock for over 300 million years has polished and carved the limestone, where shades of pure white, greyish blue and pink produced by the various impurities made of quartz and limonite may be discovered.
If the legend of Trapananda -one of the cities of the Caesars' cities that remains hidden in the indomitable region of Aysén- could have found an inspiration, it would certainly have been the stateliness of the marble chapels.
Marble Chapels in Lake Carrera
We were astonished to discover new forms while Johnny would get deep into the whimsical nooks that became narrower and narrower. When we got into what is called “The Cathedral”, we felt an abrupt temperature drop. The core of the rock would show its marble cavities of various shades. The snow-capped mountains, the leafy islands and the turquoise waters would be perceived through the holes.
Time passed and we kept taking photographs, but we had to go back. After a few more turns, the guide was ready to return. Although the wind was colder, we did not care. We were still amazed at the scenery.
Marble Chapels in Lake Carrera
As we arrived, some tourists were waiting on the shore. Each summer season, over 3,000 people get to this place in order to go on the excursion.
Johnny invited us with some mate and the calzones he had refused before the ride. The sun was setting quietly but he still had one more trip to the chapels.
Useful Data
How to get here
Mansa Bay lies at the 220th km of the southern road, some 5km from the Tranquilo River harbor. The access is signposted and the road to the lake is quite good.
daily outings until 6pm during the season.
wear warm clothes and carry a camera.
Pedro Contreras
Carretera Austral Km. 220 Bahía Mansa (6050000) Chile Chico / Lago G. Carrera - XI Región - Chile
Tel: +56 67 225-8168  Fax: +56 67 241-1500  
Inter Patagonia

Marble Chapels
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The Viewpoint

“It is 4 years since I have been assisting my dad (Pedro) to organize the excursions to the chapels. I have spent hours going around them with photographers and tourists. However, I am still amazed to find new shapes. They are in constant change, due to the water or the sunshine percolating through their holes. They are never the same. And that is fantastic.”
    Johnny Contreras

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