“One sight of such a coast is enough to make a landsman dream for a week about shipwrecks, peril and death.”
Charles Darwin, 1834
Cape Horn has been for centuries the nightmare of all seamen, as well as the dream of adventurous travelers. The waters that surround this sinister rock are some of the roughest and unruly ones Worldwide. Its waves can often reach heights of over 20 meters, crashing violently against the rocks. Wind blows in all directions with enough speed and force to through you overboard and every second day of the year, it’s likely to get caught in a storm. The Cape Horn route is, in fact, one of the most dangerous nautical passages in the World.
Before the construction of the Panama Canal, the only nautical route to cross between the Atlantic and the Pacific was to dare the southern route bypassing Cape Horn. There are an estimated 800 shipwrecks near this black rock!
On our first evening on the Stella Australis, the expedition cruise that would take us from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas, we were warned about the possibility of experiencing significant shakes and unrest when approaching the cape. Crew members advised that, as weather changes radically, we might even not be able to disembark on Cape Horn. We would only by the next morning.
At 6:00am we woke up to a grey sky but a surprisingly calm sea. It was time to get ready to get on our zodiacs to explore the cape!
Once on Cape Horn, I realized how sinister and dramatic it landscape is. Besides for the Albatross statue (pictured above on the left side of the picture), which is a monument to the many sailors who have lost their lives surrounding the rock, the cape houses a lighthouse. A lighthouse that shelters a seaman from the chilean Navy together with his supporting family, living in this harsh climate and isolated from civilization for a whole year.
On our way back to the cruise, we were surprised that our zodiac gave a sudden turn to follow the coastline… to watch a colony of sea lions!