HJDS Travel Group

Up Close to Cape Horn

by on Apr.22, 2013, under Adventures

  • Sumo

The magic of Cape Horn – this is basically the last part of planet earth as you head to the South Pole that you can realistically live on! Any further south and it’s just too cold to live. Michael Palin once managed to step foot here on a BBC Documentary a few years back and now it was time to make the trip to Cape Horn.[]

It’s owned by Chile, not Argentina and forms the southern point of the island area known as Tierra Del Fuego. I love the name actually – CAPE HORN. It has a certain inspired ring to it. I was hell bent on seeing it for real, and selfishly I wanted to step foot on it.

Stepping foot on the cape of Horn is at a high cost, hence why Michael Palin was able to do it – being a posh English type on a rich BBC budget, I envy his adventures but cannot afford them. Chilean officials do not allow any boats that are not Chilean to go within 12 or 13 miles (can’t remember which) of the Horn itself, without a strict permission.

We left Argentina behind for Antarctica sailing on the MS Expedition which was built up in Denmakr, had been registered in Africa at Liberia and was now making these regular trips down to the white continent. Everyone on the ship was asleep (except the crew) the night we headed south on the dreaded Drake Passage, so getting up close to Cape Horn wasn’t happening – we were much too far east for that anyway and we had one intention – arriving in Antarctica[]

There were rumours circulating on board the ship that we would be calling at Cape Horn on the way back up to Argentina. This all began by the crew showing us an intriguing documentary about Cape Horn as we headed back onto the Drake Passage, however nothing was confirmed.

However the map of the route onboard the ship was the giveaway as we had departed from Antarctica at Elephant Island and were changing direction rapidly, instead of heading directly north, there was a slight tilting to the north west, where Cape Horn sits.

This meant we were obviously planning to sail within viewing distance of Cape Horn, which was then rumoured to be our final “surprise” on board. This was later confirmed at that day’s “Recap and briefing” where we were told we would get an early morning wake up call on our approach to Cape Horn so none of us would miss out. We were told this would be around 5 am.

The night before proved to be quite a late one in the onboard Polar Bear Bar, it was our final journey on the treacherous Drake Passage and we had all bonded as a group on board the ship and on land on the magical continent. I left the bar around 2.30 am, with many still up. Sunset had passed us by on the west and sunrise had begun in the east, giving the boat the odd position of one side in darkness and the other side in early morning light.

After 2 hours sleep the alarms went off and I was up waiting to see Cape Horn, we assembled on deck and it was by around 6.30 am that we finally got close to Cape Horn – an incredibly exciting moment for all concerned!

Finally just before 7 am we had the announcement that we were on our approach to Cape Horn. We were also informed that the Captain had been in touch with the Chilean authorities and that we were able to breach the normal barrier of 12 – 13 miles within the Cape.

It was straight upstairs to the For’d Deck for the fantastic morning view of the fabulous Cabo De Hornos. In the end we got within 3 miles of Cape Horn! It wasn’t even a dream. I saw Cape Horn for real. Totally immense. Been there, done that, didn’t stand on the land there.

To read more articles like Seeing Cape Horn go to Jonny Blair’s excellent website A Lifestyle of Travel for ongoing travel stories and advice.. Unique version for reprint here: Up Close to Cape Horn.

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