Thursday, December 24, 2015

Christmas on Cape Horn

One of the few ways one has chance to set foot (or even eyes on) Cape Horn is through a 3-4 day island and glacier excursion offered by Stella Australis. The Chilean company says they have a 70% success rate of making Cape Horn landings, which is remarkable given the area's reputation for foul weather. 

At 6am, we woke up to a captains announcement that our arrival at the Cape was in ideal conditions: 10 celsius (50F) and clear skies. We clambered up to the 5th deck in our life jackets for our daily briefing and headed out on zodiacs. The Stella Australis ship that had come days before us had been unable to land due to rough seas so we felt pretty lucky. 
A new sculpture of an albatross had recently been erected to replace the old one, which had been destroyed by high winds despite its design to resist 160 kilometer-per-hour gusts! (The new one was rated at 200 kph). 

I was surprised at the amount of flora covering the horn. Every rock had a thick layer of lichen on it and the scrub brush and vegetation grew in various directions the wind blew. On Cape Horn, there's a lighthouse and cabin inhabited by a Chilean military officer and his family for the term of one year. There is also a gift shop in the lighthouse.  We climbed up into the lighthouse but didn't wait in the lengthy gift shop line as the commercialization of the end of the world seemed a little ironic on Xmas Eve. We instead opted for some Yerba Maté and bizcocho at the end of the world with our handy new travel Maté, meant for yerbateros on-the-go.
Father Christmas aka Papa Noel made a surprise appearance on the island, bringing gifts to the Chilean officer's family. "He" (our guide Laura) was kind enough to pose for a picture as we were the last ones leaving the Cape. 

No comments:

Post a Comment