Chile // Tierra del Fuego //

Round the Horn by sea and air

Directly south of Isla Navarino lies a cluster of islands, part of the Cabo de Hornos biosphere reserve – a staggering five million hectares of native forest, tundra, glaciers, fjords and tall black cliffs. This pristine marine habitat is set aside for strict conservation only; overnight stays are not permitted

For centuries the treacherous icy waters surrounding the islands of Cape Horn captured the imagination of sailors and adventurers, not least because they constitute the biggest ship graveyard in the Americas: on old nautical maps, the waters around the islands are littered with tiny pictures of sunken ships. Today, Cape Horn still presents a sizeable challenge for experienced sailors and travellers alike, many of whom, having come this far south, can’t resist going all the way round.

SIM and Victory Adventure Expeditions in Puerto Williams are good places to enquire about sailing trips. Weather permitting, you disembark on a shingle beach, climb a rickety ladder and visit the tiny Chilean naval base, lighthouse and chapel; a statue of an albatross overlooks the stormy waters beyond. Aerovías DAP and the local flying clubs run fairly expensive (around CH$500,000 per small chartered plane) half-hour flights from both Punta Arenas and Puerto Williams that do a loop and return without landing. These air excursions treat you to incredible views of Isla Navarino and the Darwin peaks. As always, weather is a vital factor.

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