Cape Horn, the end of the world

The south of the south. The most remote point of the continent. Beyond that, nothing but the ocean and Antarctica – the end of the world.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009  
Cabo de Hornos Cabo de Hornos (Photo:Jorge López)

This is a milestone in the history of navigation since its discovery in 1616 by an Dutch expedition led by Willem Schouten and Jacob Le Maire, both were searching for an alternative route to link the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. The cape of the Horn Island, a 425-meter high plateau, became the icon for seamen who even today face hurricane-strength winds and gigantic waves in this sector.

It is not only a symbol of maritime skill, but is also a natural and cultural treasure in the midst of extraordinarily beautiful landscapes. Characteristic of Cape Horn is the presence of peat bogs and cold desert associated with fauna such as the coscoroba (small, short-necked) swan, condor and lile (red-legged cormorant). It is a major nesting site for the Magellan and Antarctic penguins. It has been declared a National Park since 1945 and a World Biosphere Reserve since 2005.

The wind blows fiercely when the tourist vessels approach the Cape landing point, and the possibility of disembarking depends entirely on the benevolence of the climate.

There is a long stairway that leads to the highest part of the island, where wooden walkways lead over the Patagonian peat bogs to the three milestones of the place: the homes of the families of resident naval officers, who stamp passports with the seal of the island; a monumental lighthouse – a quintessential photo – and the sculpture of an albatross, created by José Balcells, that crowns the southern extreme of the island and its gigantic precipices. It is one of the spots where you can really feel the power of nature. 

img_banner