Cape Horn is one of the mythical places in our planet. Many visitors around the world arrive in Patagonia and want to reach the rock promontory because it´s the last portion of the South American continent before the white continent of Antarctica. First question is What is Cape Horn?
What is Cape Horn? Where is Cape Horn located?
Well, Cape Horn is the southernmost rock of the island of Hornos and the archipelago of Tierra del Fuego; It is located in the southern part of Chile and is traditionally considered the southernmost point in America. Yes, the last rock before Antarctica. But... it is not true, because the last portion of South America is the Águila islet in the Diego Ramírez Islands, also belonging to Chile. But, Cape Horn is a myth and many people want to reach this point marked in a map. It is the southernmost of the three great capes in the southern hemisphere of the planet and marks the northern limit of the Drake Passage or Drake Pass, which separates America from Antarctica, and also joins the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. But, it´s a place full of history too. Before continue with the history, let me show a map to locate the Cape Horn in our planet:
Cape Horn Map. Exact location
A bit of history about Cape Horn
For centuries, Cape Horn was one of the landmarks of the commercial navigation routes for sailing vessels, despite the fact that the waters around it are particularly dangerous, due to its strong winds and waves and the presence of icebergs. However, with the inauguration of the Panama Canal at the beginnings of XX century, and to be exact in 1914, and of course due to the construction of roads and railways in other countries of the continent, merchant shipping around the cape was significantly reduced decade by decaded, being used today by ships whose large size makes it impossible for them to pass through. So, it´s usually important for the travel industry with some interesting cruises available from Ushuaia and also from Punta Arenas.
Sailing in its waters is still considered one of the greatest nautical challenges, so there are various sporting and tourist events that use this pass, some as part of the circumnavigation of the globe, among which are important yacht regattas.
Why Cape Horn is so famous?
Located in the extreme south of the American continent, Cabo de Hornos as we use in Spanish is a 425-meter high cliff located to the south of an island of just 12 square kilometers. Northern border of the Drake Passage, a 650-kilometer-wide strait that separates South America from the Antarctic continent, where land and sea are constantly swept by winds that reach 100 kilometers per hour under freezing temperatures! It´s a challenge as you can see.
In Cape Horn, you will find the perfect conditions to be scared with frequent storms, inadvertent icebergs, and currents capable of raising the most fearsome and gigantic waves. We are at latitude 56º South, with prevailing winds from the West known as the roaring 40º and the howling 50º. Winds from the extreme south are unable to stop as there are no lands to interrupt them. But, we have cruises to visit this area, yes. And they are amazing. But I will talk about that later.
Is Cape Horn a dangerous place?
The strong prevailing wind in the area is to blame for causing the worst storms. As if that were not enough, in this area the seabed rises sharply, causing currents in opposite directions that in turn cause giant waves of up to 30 meters and in unpredictable directions.
In 1616, the Dutch Willem Schouten discovered a navigable pass south of the Strait of Magellan, which he named after his hometown: Hoorn. Forty years earlier, the English privateer Francis Drake saw firsthand the harshness of navigation in these latitudes when a storm took him to the worst part of the southern hemisphere while trying to reach Asia through the Strait of Magellan. The passage through the cape was consolidated as an important world maritime route, and until the construction of the Panama Canal, in 1914, it was the only marine route that connected the East and West coasts of the United States.
The fame of Cape Horn spread and became the greatest challenge for all sailors in the world, in part due to the high number of victims due to its dangerous waters. Disasters were common and only between 1850 and 1900, more than a hundred ships were wrecked in the vicinity of the cape, some crashed against rocks or floating ice, and others because they could not withstand the force of the winds. The sailors and pirates of the time adopted the custom of putting on an earring in the shape of a hoop in the ear that symbolized having survived the passage of the dangerous cape.
Cruises to Cape Horn
And of course, you can reach the Cape Horn and disembark on it. Of course if weather permits. But it´s usually possible. There are some amazing cruises that goes from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia and then from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas. It´s the Australis Cruise company that offers amazing 4-night cruises to visit southern fjords and glaciers in Patagonia, with disembarkation in zodics to some islands and islets, and of course to the amazing Cape Horn. Check two options: The Australis Cruise from Ushuaia to Punta Arenas: Patagonian Explorer, and the Australis Cruise called Fjords of Tierra del Fuego from Punta Arenas to Ushuaia. Both cruises can be combined in an 8-night cruise, so you have two chances to disembark in Cape Horn. These cruises called Darwin´s Route are Australis Darwin´s Route from Ushuaia to Ushuaia and Australis Darwin´s Route from Punta Arenas to Punta Arenas.
Tours in Patagonia including Cape Horn
A good idea is to combine these cruises with a well-organized land program that includes El Calafate and Perito Moreno, Ushuaia, then the Australis Cruise, to finalize in Punta Arenas and visit the Torres del Paine National Park, another highlight in the Patagonia region. One of my favorites is Incredible Patagonia with Australis Cruise, longer, with 19 nights but absolutely awesome:
More tours with Cape Horn and Patagonia
Of course, we have more tours, more than 150 in total, and many going to southern Patagonia and the Cape Horn of course. Check our complete list of tours to visit Argentina!
For more information, just contact us at email@example.com