In the middle of Patagonia lies an enchanted underworld of azure caverns. Incredible streaks of blue make it look as though a master artist in a land of giants has made his mark on these special caves.
Known as General Carrera, the gorgeous lake where the caves are to be found has borders that are shared by both Argentina and Chile. It has a sunny microclimate in an area that is normally cold, so people can enjoy the water and explore the caverns in comfort.
Image: Nicolas Aracena
The caverns are one of nature’s miracles, sheer cliffs of marble whose sediments give them this enchanting color. The water itself has slowly thrown gravel against the cliffs to gently form spaces small and large. The caverns can be explored by boat at certain times of the year when the water level is low enough.
Known as Las Cavernas de Marmol – The Marble Caverns – there are three more specific names for the caves: the Cave, the Cathedral and the Chapel.
The Marble Caves are comprised of a jutting rock with a vein of pure marble beneath it that runs from one side of Lake Carrera to Puerto Tranquilo on the lake’s north side. The Chapel and Cathedral have been designated as a nature sanctuary. These two can actually be visited all summer long as the water levels are fairly stable there.
The banks of stone above the caverns are white-gray, but you can see streaks of blue from the impurities there as well, culminating in their wild and wondrous colors at the bottom.
One of the worries for the area is Chile’s plan to build five hydropower dams in Patagonia. Of course, this is going to disrupt the habitats of many unique and endangered species in the area as well as potentially disturb the beautiful lakes, including Lake Carrera (on the Argentinian side it is called Lago Buenos Aires). There is a public movement that is trying to stop the plans which you can learn more about here.
These exquisite caverns may not be well-known but they are as beautiful as some of the world’s top geographical wonders and should be included in any such list. Hopefully the lake will not be badly affected by the dams, and these caverns will still be accessible to people who can continue to marvel at them.