Stella Australis

Isla Magdalena, Chile

Penguins are simply adorable, aren’t they?

Before disembarking at a floating dock on Isla Magdalena (Chile), I had only watched them behind a glass in the Zoo, where a couple of dozens occupied the fake islands and saw their days pass by staring to each other and, from time to time, having a short dive into the water.

The Magellanic penguins on Isla Magdalena had nothing to do with the picture I had from the Zoo. thousands of penguins were waddling down the hills towards the sea to go and catch lunch for their family, while their partners took care of their furry chicks. Some of them wandered in groups of friends, while others stood by them selves calling out for their life partners.

Isla Magdalena, Chile

Yes, that’s right. Penguins mate for life.

Not only are they loyal, but build a relationship based on teamwork – they build their nest together and then make shifts on catching fish and raising their chicks. Year after year, male penguins search for their female partners, who recognize them through the male’s calls. I spotted a few of them hoping to reconnect with their beloved ones!

Isla Magdalena, Chile

Isla Magdalena, Chile

Isla Magdalena is not as easy to access as the smaller colony in Seno Otway, about an hour drive from Punta Arenas.

Despite receiving far less visitors than Otway, the birds were curious about us – some of them even seemed to enjoyed standing in front of a camera!

Isla Magdalena, Chile

Isla Magdalena, Chile

Although our visit was short – about an hour on land -, the visit is most definitely worth it! I managed to use up my camera’s battery, but returned with at least 60 unique postcards.

I could have stayed the whole day watching them.

Isla Magdalena, Chile

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A View over Wulaia Bay, Chile

Wulaia Bay used to be the region’s largest Yamana aboriginal settlements and is nowadays known for its incredible beauty. As we disembarked and hiked uphill, through a forest of Coihues and Lengas towards the look-out point from which I took the photograph, I realized how much I had been missing this – the peaceful sound of wind brushing the leaves and constant waves playing in the background.

I stood there for some time, in complete silence, sketching this panoramic view over the bay deep into my memory – right before rushing back down to avoid being drenched by the rain.

“One sight of such a coast is enough to make a landsman dream for a week about shipwrecks, peril and death.”
Charles Darwin, 1834

Arriving at Cape Horn, Chile

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!

Planning Our Arrival to Cape Horn, Chile

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!

Arriving at Cape Horn, Chile

Cape Horn, Chile

Cape Horn, Chile

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.

Chilean Flag on Cape Horn, Chile

Cape Horn, Chile

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!

Cape Horn, Chile

Sea Lions in Cape Horn, Chile