In this post we provide information on how to get from El Chalten, Argentina to Puerto Rio Tranquilo, how to visit the Marble Caves (Capillas de Marmol and Puerto Sanchez), where to stay in Puerto Rio Tranquilo and all the costs.
How to Get from El Chalten, Argentina to Puerto Rio Tranquilo, Chile
It is a multiple-step process to get to Puerto Rio Tranquilo, but the journey is well worth it! Traveling by bus in Chile is less expensive than in Argentina so instead of going up to Bariloche (which costs over USD $130 per person for a 24h journey and departs every other day) we decided to go through Chile and visit the Marble Caves. All the photos in this post are from the Puerto Sanchez Marble Caves.
– Book a bus from El Chalten to Los Antiguos – departs daily at 8pm, arrives at 7am. Cost: 1,200 ARS (USD $80). Los Antiguos is a small Argentinean town before the Chilean border.
– Book a bus/van from Los Antiguos to Chile Chico (small town on the other side of the border in Chile)// Hitchhike from Los Antiguos to Chile Chico. Very easy to find friendly and generous locals who will give you a ride from Los Antiguos to Chile Chico including border crossing. The whole process takes less than 2hrs. Or, there is a van awaiting tourists at the bus station in Los Antiguos and offers to take you to Chile Chico for 100 ARS (USD $7) per person.
– Book small bus from Chile Chico to Puerto Rio Tranquilo – 15,000 to 17,000 CHP (USD $22-25), departs at 10am and arrives around 2-2:30pm. Booking is done next to the supermarket at Martin Pescador on the main entrance road to Chile Chico. Only about 15 seats on the van. Road is not paved and very bumpy. It is advertised that there is another bus departing at 4pm but you should double check as there may only be one per day. It is also possible to go back to Chile Chico after your tour in Puerto Rio Tranquilo.
How to Get Around Puerto Rio Tranquilo
The town is very small and there is no official bus station. Buses just stop on the main road facing the water. Very easy to walk through the town by foot.
Where to Stay in Puerto Rio Tranquilo – Hotels in Puerto Rio Tranquilo
There are several hostels in this town. You can easily ask around. Camping is also possible. We stayed at Silvana’s (who also has a sandwich shop on the main road and offers boat trips to the marble caves). The hostel is basic and clean, offers a kitchen to use for basic cooking, dorms and private rooms. Bathroom is shared. 10,000CHP (USD $15) per person. WiFi available.
What To Do in Puerto Rio Tranquilo – Activities in Puerto Rio Tranquilo
Main activity is Puerto Rio Tranquilo is to visit the beautiful marble caves. Only way to visit is to hire a boat. There are multiple companies along the waterfront. Ask around and negotiate. The more people on the tour, the less you will pay.
This is the company we used:
Visit Los Capillas de Marmol: tour lasts 1h30mins, cost is 8,000 CHP (USD $12) per person. Boat can take up to 10 people.
Visit the marble caves of Puerto Sanchez: Tour lasts 2h30mins. Boat can take up to 5-6people. Supposedly, more impressive than the Capillas de Marmol. Tours do not advertise this option, you will need to request it.
If you want to combine both caves, the tour lasts 4hrs30mins and total cost is between 75-90,000 CHP (USD $110-135) total so the more people on the tour, the less you’ll pay. For both, it is recommended to go early in the day for favorable weather conditions. We went to Puerto Sanchez at 6am and were not disappointed, most tours start at 8am. The rain came in right as we were ending our tour and it poured the rest of day.
Ice cave hike – you can also book a tour to hike through an ice cave, equipment provided. Cost is about USD $50 per person. We did not do this but it sounded like a great experience.
From Puerto Rio Tranquilo to Coyhaique
If you want to go north towards the Lake District, you have to get to Coyhaique, the next big town, in order to catch your connection. Buses leave at 9am and 10:30am. Cost is 9,000 CHP (USD $14) with Man-hata and 10,000 CHP (USD $15) with Silvana, per person and lasts 3:30hrs.
What else did you do in Puerto Rio Tranquilo? Did you visit something else other than the marble caves? Share your experiences with us! We love to hear from you!
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Thank you so much for this information. I am sitting in Argentina scratching my head on how to get to the caves until I came across your site. Thank you!
Hi Stacey, i’m so happy this was useful to you! Hope you’ll make it, it’s a wonderful place. Thanks for stopping by and looking forward to share more practical info. Happy travels!xx
Hi, great article thanks so much, do you know if the buses going to Puerto Río Tranquilo from Chile Chico leave every day?
And from your article it looks like it’s possible to get from El Chalten to Puerto Río Tranquilo without staying a night in Los Antiguos or Chile Chico if everything runs smoothly, is that correct?
Hi Blaise, yes if everything runs smoothly, you can get from El Chalten to Puerto Rio Tranquilo without an overnight in Los Antiguos or Chile Chico, as we were able to do. I believe that yes buses do leave daily from Chile Chico to Puerto Rio Tranquilo. If in doubt, there is the phone number of Martin Pescador Transporte, which provides the service, in one of the photos of this post.
Hope this helps and don’t hesitate if you have other questions. Happy and safe travels!! xx
Great post! Thank you for sharing all this information!
After having visited both Marble Chapel and the Caves at Puerto Sánchez, are the Caves of Puerto Sánchez really more impressive or more of the same?
I am trying to plan everything on the day I arrive in Chile Chico because I don’t have too much time, the guy you did the tour with (thanks for sharing!) just told me I can do it on the day, but I wanted to know you if it is worth the extra time and money. Thank you one more time
Hi Sara, frankly, it all depends on how much you enjoy visiting marble caves and what your budget allows you to do. We actually did not have the time to visit the Marble Chapel and only did the Puerto Sanchez caves at dawn. If we would have had the time, we would have visited both given the travel time to get to Puerto Rio Tranquilo. I remember the company owner telling us that the Puerto Sanchez were better and we could actually walk through one of them-which is why we didn’t regret not seeing the Marble Chapel. Maybe ask for other travelers’ photos of the Marble Chapel and compare it with ours to help you decide. Keep us posted and enjoy the tour! The boat ride itself is just as enjoyable, try to go at dawn if you can. Happy and safe travels!! xx
Hi – thanks for the awesome information. I’m currently in El Chalten trying to figure out how to get to Puerto Rio Tranquillo without having to stay the night in Los Antuigos. Do you know if the buses to Coyhaique run daily?
Hi Cindy! Happy this information is helpful! If I remember correctly, the buses do run daily and there are multiple companies to choose from. Happy and safe travels! xx
Thank you so so much for the really helpful information!!! I’m in el chalten and researching since hours how to get to the caves and was already about to skip it when I came across your post! You saved me 🙂 Thanks so much! I hope it’ll all work though it’s almost off season in April… but fingers crossed!
Hi Nicole, thanks for your message! I’m so glad this information is useful , as we struggled to find available documentation as well. Keep us posted, hope you will be able to see the caves. Happy and safe travels! xx
Thank you so much! Currently in El Calafate looking to go to Puerto Rio Tranquilo. This will be helpful!
Hi Owen, Happy this is useful to you 🙂 Thanks for stopping by, happy travels!
Hello! Planning of going to Marble caves this June, is that possible since it’s winter , will there be boats to take us? Also, can we go to El Chalten then Torres del Paine?
I have the same question! Thinking of departing in a week. Also, is it convenient to get back to El Chalten ? Or more specifically El Calafate?
Hi Karin, thanks for your message! To get back to El Chalten you just need to do our route backwards, there is a shuttle that leaves Puerto Rio Tranquilo back to Los Antiguos (border) and then from Los Antiguos take a bus back to El Chalten, not sure if there is a direct route to El Calafate, you may need to stop in El Chalten first. Hope this helps, double check with locals and fellow travelers who can provide useful info. Safe travels 🙂
Hi Yolanda, thanks for your note. We were there at the beginning of the year – I think best would be for you to call or email the company we used (info in one of the photos of the post), they would be more helpful than I am. Re going from El Chalten to Torres, do you mean in terms of route? If yes, then I think that is possible but since we went from Torres to El Calafate then El Chalten, I can’t confirm anything. Hope this helps, thanks for reading and happy travels! It’s a beautiful trip!
Hi, BRILLIANT post!!! Am unable to find online bus services from El Chalten to Los Antiguos. We want to fly back from BBA to Santiago after visiting caves. Can you please provide any online bus booking system which we can do booking with? Please advise. Many thanks!
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