We awoke to the coldest morning so far, -1˚C and our feet were icicles! We slept in our thermal sleeping bags and we weren’t cold just our feet were frozen so we decided to make another campfire. It was so cozy and perfect to start the day!
We left at about 9:30AM to Puerto Tranquilo for our excursion to the Marble Caves. Past the city of Cerro Castillo the road is unpaved all the way until you arrive in Chile Chico (past Puerto Tranquilo). We arrived in Puerto Tranquilo around 1:15PM and easily found a few places for our tour. It is an extremely small village so it was very easy to find a place. It’s CLP$30,000 for the boat so you can go alone or wait for a group, which is what we did, and you just pay CLP$5000/person so it was very cheap for us.
While we were waiting for the other group to arrive, we changed one of our headlights which burned out due to the law that states that you must keep your lights on at all times. So it’s good to learn how to change your own lamps and bring extra bulbs. It’s very easy to change the lights and each big one cost us about R$20. Our group finally arrived around 3PM and we went out on Lago General Carrera (this lake is divided by the border of Chile and Argentina so on the Argentinian side it’s called Lago Buenos Aires). This is the second largest lake in South America after Lake Titicaca, that is split between Peru and Bolivia.
We took this small motorboat onto the most beautiful turquoise lake you ever did see in your life! It was clear and turquoise all at once and it was truly amazing. The weather was pretty gusty but not so bad. The excursion is about an hour and a half and is really pretty. You get really nice views of the snow-capped Andes Mountains while you are in the middle of the lake. It’s truly an incredible site. There are 3 “sites” that the boats take you to: first the marble caves, then the “Cathedral,” and finally the beautiful marble chapel.
There are no words to describe the beauty of these sites. The enclaves formed by water erosion over millions of years with many different colors. The guide (who only speaks Spanish) told us that this marble is too young, about 500 million years old, to make any products from. The marble that is used in production needs to be 1 billion years old. Well these caves were at the bottom of massive cliffs of what i assume to be marble as well. The greatness is just amazing, enough to make you feel so incredibly minuscule.
We met a number of interesting people from all over the world on our boat ride. It was very interesting seeing many people in such an adventurous, not-your-average-tourist place. We had really great conversations with everyone and it made the very bumpy ride back much more bearable. If you get motion sickness pretty easily then you need to take caution because the wind in Patagonia makes the lake produce ocean-like waves, it’s not as calm as one would imagine a lake to be.
After the boat ride, we noticed that our tire was a bit flat so we filled it up and continued on our way, not thinking twice about it. We left Puerto Tranquilo around 4PM and went towards Chile Chico. The road was, once again, unpaved but we managed to get to Chile Chico in about 4 hours. Chile Chico was a really cute city right on the lake and had wooden store fronts but we decided to cross the border to Los Antiguos, Argentina so we could talk to our friends and family. We showed our documents at the Chilean Border, got stamped, and were on our way in about 5 minutes. Then we drove a few kilometers to the Argentinian border and did the same but for entry (which always takes a bit longer). Crossing both borders took about 30 minutes.
Los Antiguos was also a cute town and we managed to find a parilla (similar to a steakhouse) open on Christmas Eve and had a really good steak with french fries for AR$70 each, so it was a pretty good deal. We then drove through the city looking for a campground and boy did we find one. It was the municipal camping for the city and it was packed for Christmas Eve. All the official sites were taken and everyone was partying. But we found an “unofficial” spot under some trees and set up camp there. We also never got a chance to pay because the guards went home early for Christmas and we arrived late, around 10:30PM so it was like a Christmas gift for us! We went to shower and encountered some pretty interesting sights because they were renovating some of the bathrooms and some of it was just concrete. But the renovations looked really nice and they had really nice hot water! We went to sleep but were awoken by fireworks for Christmas and it was a really nice site to see.
- Left Coyhaique camping @ 9:30AM
- Arrived in Puerto Tranquilo @ 1PM
- CLP$200 = Bathroom
- CLP$10,000 = Marble Caves excursion
- Arrived in Chile Chico/Los Antiguos @ 9PM
- AR$190 = dinner
- Total = CLP$10,200 / AR$190