Having been diverted by the walk to Rio Baker the day before, we were later than planned arriving in Rio Tranquilo, and I thought we might as well just take it easy and visit the main attraction – the so-called ‘marble caves’ on the lake – the next day. Unfortunately, a quick check of the weather forecast suggested the sun was unlikely to continue – the next 5 days were forecast for rain in Rio Tranquilo.
We had a truly awful meal in the only restaurant that was open (come on guys, its supposed to be ‘shoulder season’ not the middle of winter) which was probably not the best preparation for a very rough boat ride. Lauren had the toughest beef I’ve ever seen – she couldn’t cut it at all, I managed only by cutting tiny pieces at a time; I had slimy boiled chicken. Yuck. This has definitely not been a trip for gourmets, but even by the standards of this trip so far, this was a low point.
Then, bellies full of greasy, slimy, unpalatable fodder, we went off in search of a boat to take us to the caves.
The marble caves are natural caves formed along the edge of the Lago General Carrera, an enormous blue lake that feels more like a sea, and is divided between Chile and Argentina.
Getting out to the caves was not too bad – the wind was at our backs and it was slightly choppy, but that just added to the excitement. Lauren enjoyed leaning over with her mouth open, drinking in the spray.
The caves themselves were interesting – we went inside some on the boat and could touch the various different marble formations. They were pretty, but I wouldn’t have detoured off the Carretera Austral to visit them.
The boat trip back was great fun, bordering on really not fun at all.
Huge waves completely engulfed our small wooden boat as we headed directly into the patagonian wind. We all got soaked, and we came very close to the rocks at times – I kept reassuring Lauren that the ‘captain’ did this every day and knew what he was doing… but I was also deep breathing and keeping an anxious look out for the quay.
Once back on dry land, we retreated to a café for horribly sweet hot chocolate and stale cake. As I say, not a trip for gourmets.
We camped that night right on the beach, sheltered from the wind by two trees. It had definitely warmed up, and the few hundred km we’d travelled had definitely made a difference. Tucked up in bed, to the sound of the wind and the waves, we agreed we quite liked Patagonia.
But not the food.