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Chapels Chiseled in Marble

 Estimated reading time: 3 min.Texts Mónica Pons   Photos Jorge González
Marble Chapels

The rock sculpted by the strength of the wind and the water causes amazement inside the Marble Chapels.

The Marble Chapels are accessed from a small town known as Bahía Mansa, located on the shores of Lake General Carrera. A picturesque road circuit with little traffic which joins Chile Chico and Puerto Ingeniero Ibañez is the beginning of an adventure outing highly appreciated in the area.

The winding road goes up and down once it leaves from Chile Chico. Before reaching Bahía Mansa we got past several small settlements on the shore. They all looked very similar and boasted a fantastic landscape. As we got to our destination, we found out information about the lake tour that leads to the rocky head lands and set out on a motorboat in the company of expert guides. The caves may not be accessed by land and they cannot be seen from the shore either.
Marble Chapels
A few minutes later, we were informed about what we were about to see as we got to the right location. They are known as a Sanctuary of Nature and they consist in a group of islets whose exterior shapes have been given different names, such as Marble Caves, Cathedral and Chapel. For thousands of years, the wind and the water have hit the limestone leaving the marble layers in sight. Thus, several colors giving evidence of calcium carbonate, quartz and limonite offer a wide array of grayish, blue, pink and pure white hues.

Marble Chapels
In the distance, we observed the huge rocks resembling a chapel, a dog’s head and a cathedral against the skyline. The time came to enter those nooks level with the water and we all felt uneasy. We got our cameras ready so as not to miss a thing. (linkear a
Marble Chapels
Once inside the caves, the glow of the water was reflected on the walls and a turquoise iridescent tone covered everything around, even us. Some of the passengers left the boat to step on some rocks from where they could touch the rough texture of the galleries. The dim inner light stressed the irregular openings of the caves and managed to create a very special effect.

It was thrilling to go from one sector to the next. Some of them were broad, others narrow. As we saw the Cathedral from the inside, we thought the temperature was lower, but that was not a problem.

Marble Chapels
It was a sunny day with a soft breeze. This ensured the success of the tour, which always takes place during the day. When the lake surface is calm, even kayaks get to this point.

Farther ahead, there is another starting point for this tour but Bahía Mansa is the closest to the chapels. We left that place resting assured that we had witnessed a fine esthetic masterpiece only nature can produce.
Marble Chapels
Useful Data
How to get here
The distance from Chile Chico to this point is 166 kilometers and in turn Puerto Ingeniero Ibañez lies 171 kilometers away. These are two international passes between Argentina and Chile.
Before setting out, check road conditions and make sure the Marble Chapels may be visited. The Chapels lie 225 kilometers away from Coyhaique following the Southern Road.
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  
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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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