Tag Archives: Cape Horn

Review of my 2012 travel memories Part 1

I had a remarkable travel year in 2012.  Here is a list of the of some of the highlights of my travel adventures.

Buenos Aires: I rang in 2012 at a special tango show and fell in love with Argentina. I stayed at  Maggie’s B&B — great location just off Avenue de Mayo and Maggie was very friendly and helpful.

New Year's in Buenos Aires 2012
New Year’s in Buenos Aires 2012
Large tree in Buenos Aires
Great place to eat Fredo ice cream!
Gaucho booth at San Telmo Market
Gaucho booth at San Telmo Market
San Telmo
San Telmo on a Sunday

Punto del Estes, Uruguay: While it was very cold in Toronto, on January 3, 2012, I was basking in the sun on a beautiful beach watching a lab puppy take its first steps into the ocean.

Beach at Punta del Estes
Beach at Punta del Estes
Puppy at the beach
Puppy’s first trip to the beach in Punta del Estes

Montevideo, Uruguay: I had no set plans for wandering around Montevideo, however as soon as I walked off the ship, I was met by a very friendly tour guide who arranged a small tour for 5 of us in a van.  It was a great way to see the city. At the end, we were dropped off in the city centre where we wandered through the streets before returning to the ship.

Settler's statue in Montevideo
Settler’s statue in Montevideo

Puerto Madryn, Argentina: Who would have thought that Welsh was spoken here — brought from Welsh immigrants who settled in this part of Patagonia. Desolute, yet beautiful, I had a proper Welsh tea, complete with scones and clotted cream in Gaimen and saw some of the local wildlife — in the form of sea lions. A couple of them even tried to board a ship!

Patagonia near Gaimen, Argentina
Patagonia near Gaimen, Argentina

 

Patagonia
Patagonia
Sea lion catching some waves
Sea lion catching some waves

Cape Horn, Chile: I’ve already talked about this in an earlier post. It is still one of my highlights of my travel adventures — to “round the Cape” while schooners of old.

Cape Horn
Cape Horn

Ushuaia, Argentina: This is another place I cannot talk enough about — from the beauty of the mountains and Tierra Del Fuego National Park, to the quaintness of the city, to more wildlife, more isolation, and the gateway to Antarctica.  Yes, I will want to come back here and spend more time. It is stunningly beautiful!

Ushuaia sign

Lighthouse at the end of the world
Lighthouse at the end of the world
Sea birds taking off
Sea birds taking off

Sailing through the Beagle Channel:  How could I forget standing on the deck of the ship in a formal dress and taking pictures of the massive glaciers that line the sides of this waterway.  I am still surprised I got any pictures, as I was shivering! But every time I thought I was head back inside to the warmth, I would caught a glimpse of a new wonder — and would  stay outside, mesmerized by the beauty.

Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel
Glaciers along the Beagle Channel

Punta Arenas, Chile: Not only a nice place place to stop for handicrafts, but also a great place to see wildlife.  I went to Ottway Sound to see a colony of Magellanic penguins — penguins are just too cute! Then is was a chance to visit the market in the centre of town.

Market in centre of town
Market in centre of town
Statue of Magellian
Statue of Magellian
Statue of Magellian
Statue of Magellian

Puerto Montt: While the town is not really much to see, once we were outside, there were volcanoes, waterfalls, and lakes! Plus an amazing lunch of local fish and pisco sours!

Osomo Volcano
Osorno Volcano
Petrohue Falls
Petrohue Falls
Trinkets
Trinkets

Valpairso, Chile: The sad part is leaving the ship — it was the best cruise I’d ever taken — but Valpairso is very interesting and close to nice beaches and a wine country that reminded me of Napa Valley.

Vina del Mar
Vina del Mar

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El Cuadro winery
El Cuadro winery

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Santiago, Chile: I think by now on my journey, I was getting tired and it was really hot — not a good combination for me. But I did see some interesting things and got a great sunset picture!

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And this ends part one of my travel year in review!

Round Cape Horn

Rounding Cape Horn
January 8, 2012

When I told my friends I was going on a cruise to “round Cape Horn” I was very surprised by how many did not even understand where this was – or what the significance could be. For me, it held magic — the tales of adventure where clipper ships sailed the oceans that I read about in school. In many ways, this was a life-long dream to sail in these once unchartered and very dangerous waters.

Cape Horn, or Cabo de Hornos, is an island that is the southernmost of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. For ships, it marks the northern boundary of the Drake Passage (or the Mar de Hoces as it is known in Latin America). This is the waterway the lies between the southern tip of South America and northern top of Antarctica (at this point, Antarctica is ~800 km south). The waters are treacherous due to very strong winds, large waves, strong currents and yes, even an occasional iceberg or two (no icebergs for us that day, though). One reason the winds and the currents are so strong is because there is virtually nothing to stop the movement of wind or water as it sweeps around the globe. Imagine that for a second or two!

This day was special for several reasons. First, it was the longest “day” I’ve ever experienced! The sun rose at 4:58 AM (yes, I got up, took the usual sunrise picture, as seen here and then went back to sleep) and it set at 10:12 PM – that is just under 18 hours of sunlight! It was also a full moon, so for a portion of the day, the moon was also large but not so bright. Then, of course, was the actual sailing into these waters.

Sun rise at Cape Horn

I decided to grab a space early and just sit out on the deck. While the sun was nice and bright, the wind kept things cool, so sitting on the deck included a sunscreen, a nice blanket and a cup of hot chocolate. Soon, I was watching for birds, including some penguins other sea life, and taking pictures of rocky coastlines.

flying bird

When we finally got to the island of Cape Horn, my first thought was how much it reminded me of Lion’s Head in Cape Town, South Africa! I heard a couple other people say similar things, so I do not think I am completely crazy with this comparison. The ship slowed down and began to circumnavigate around the Cape – so we could see it from every possible angle! While this was going on, one of the guest lecturers on board described more about what we were seeing (although I was too busy taking pictures and sharing this experience with my fellow travellers).

Cape Horn

We finally got around to the tip of the island where there is a small building that includes a small lighthouse and a residence.

Cape Horn

There is also a sculpture by Chilean Jose Balcells that is a representation of an albatross.

Albatross Sculpture at Cape Horn

The island is pretty desolate – no trees, rough terrain, but lush grass – and there is a constant wind. The wind is call the “roaring 40s” but can increase to be called the “furious 50s” or even the “screaming 60s”. I think we lucked out with the 40s – although I did get a bit of sunburn/windburn.

All in all, it was a truly magical day and now I can say I went ‘round the Horn! (even have a certificate to prove it). This was a once in a lifetime adventure!

Me at Cape Horn

Cape Horn Day 10

Cape Horn Day 10
I think this is the longest amount of daylight I’ve ever seen: sunrise was at 4:58 AM and sunset is scheduled for 10:12 PM – over 17 hours! We were also blessed by incredible weather. This area of the world is known for rough seas, strong winds and very changeable conditions. The last cruise on this journey could not make it to Cape Horn because of the weather. We were blessed with an amazing day! While the winds were strong, the sea was calm. I was able to find a great spot on the deck – grabbed a towel and a blanket and settled in to see the highlight of the day. We were not disappointed, either. I can now say that I have circumnavigated Cape Horn – the southernmost point of South America. I can also say that I have now been to both southernmost points because I have also been Cape of Good Hope in South Africa!
The sail around was a lot of fun – a real party atmosphere. There was also a bonus: I got a couple of pictures of penguins swimming along the ship! (Ok, it is hard to really tell from the photos what they are, but you can see their heads above the surface of the water.) I thought that the mountain formation that forms Cape Horn looks a lot like Lion’s Head Mountain – the “other” mountain that surrounds Cape Town (the one people remember is Table Mountain). I heard a few people say the same thing. There is a family that actually lives in a house on the Cape – it has to be a pretty lonely existence.
Another interesting thing happened as I was sailing around the Horn – my ankle chain that I have worn for over ten years broke. Not sure yet what that means, if anything, but I do sense a difference.
Yes, I took an unbelievable amount of pictures.
After the Horn, we headed back to the passage that will lead us to Ushuaia, Argentina where we will see the Beagle Channel and Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Dinner was fun. I had smoked salmon, Tom Ka Gai (Thai chicken coconut soup), Australian white fish, and cocoa meringue. After dinner, Gayle, Mary, Scot and I had some fun on the penny slot machines before the casino closed because we were entering Chilean waters. I ended my night early with my favourite drink in at the Martini Bar and now I am waiting for the sun to set.