There are a few destinations so iconic — even fabled — that they draw adventure-seekers from around the world. Cape Horn, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile, fits the bill. The rocky terrain extends into Drake Passage, rising to a height of 1,391 feet. 150 years ago the trip ’round the horn’ was an arduous trip — especially during the gold-mining push of the late 1800s when passengers crammed into whaling ships to make their way from the east coast to California. It was such a feat that it inspired nations to work together to build the Panama Canal. Today travelers can cruise there in comfort, safety and style with Holland America Line, and it is an incredible sight to add to your bucket list.
Holland America Line features seven South America itineraries that visit Cape Horn in 2015, with more to follow in 2016. Cruises range from 14- to 32-day adventures, visiting some lesser-known ports along the way.
The 32-Day Inca Discovery & South America itinerary on Zaandam, the longest of the South America voyages, begins in San Diego and calls at several ports in Mexico, Peru, and Guatemala. Here’s a snapshot of the voyage by the numbers!
On this itinerary, guests can discover South America’s coffee, chocolate, ancient civilizations and lush green landscapes. Imagine a day in the life of the ancient Mayans with Tikal, Maya City of Voices. Visit the Pyramid of the Great Jaguar, the Central Plaza, the Palace of the Masks and Pyramid IV. Marvel at the size of the Central Acropolis and the North Acropolis, as well as the temples that tower above the tree line. Holland America Line guests Virginian said,
“Tikal was breathtaking. There is a fantastic history of the Mayans at San Diego’s Museum of Man. We were there on November 1, All Saint’s Day. Tikal is a National Park, and there were many locals visiting and enjoying family gatherings. It was a festive day and, in spite of an armed presence at the gate, we felt safe and welcome.”
Then it’s on to Peru! An overnight at Lima offers ample time to explore the colonial city. Peru particularly has an interesting culinary scene. The varied is due in part to the large Asian population. In the mid to late 19th century tens of thousands of Chinese immigrants arrived to work on the sugar plantations and mines in Peru. Some went on to open chifas, restaurants that serve typical Chinese food made with South American ingredients such as pineapple and aji amarillo. Today chifas are very popular throughout the country.
The next leg of the journey offers a panoramic view of Chile. Calls include Coquimbo (La Serena), Valparaiso (Santiago), Puerto Montt, Puerto Chacabuco and scenic cruising through the Chilean fjords. Valparaiso is a particularly interesting stop. Designated an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2002, the city combines bohemian bars and Victorian architecture along a coastline of plunging cliffs. Stroll in the footsteps of Nobel Peace-winning poet Pablo Neruda or stop anywhere for fabulous local wines.
As the cruise sails closer to Cape Horn, head through the Beagle Channel to Ushuaia, Argentina, the world’s southernmost city! Called the “end of the world,” Ushuaia is perched dramatically between the snowcapped Martial mountains, the bay and the Beagle Channel. Full of beautiful scenery and marine life, the city is hopping as it is the gateway to Antarctica. It’s an outdoorsman’s dream — adventurers from all over the globe hope to cross Ushuaia off of their bucket list!
Ushuaia is the last call before the big event — “rounding the horn!” If Ushuaia is the “end of the world,” Cape Horn is otherworldly. Wrap up and head to the balcony or find a cozy spot on deck to watch the rugged coastline dotted with penguins pass by. As you travel around the spectacular landscape, take some time to consider that it used to be the only way to get around South America and remains the fastest route. Now a scenic byway, the horn was a dreaded event for sailors years ago. Today a monument stands in memory of sailors who did not make the journey. A gorgeous albatross silhouette stands against the sky inscribed with the following poem:
“I, the albatross that awaits at the end of the world…
I am the forgotten soul of the sailors lost,
rounding Cape Horn from all the seas of the world.
But die they did not in the fierce waves,
for today towards eternity, in my wings they soar,
in the last crevice of the Antarctic winds.”
Once you’ve rounded the horn you’ll visit the Falkland Islands where you’ll see a distinct British influence and plenty of penguins! At Montevideo, Uruguay, visit Colonia de Sacramento, the oldest city in the country, founded in 1680. And finally the cruise concludes with an overnight at Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Keep in mind, the 32-day cruise departing San Diego is just one option for seeing South America and rounding the horn. Cruises also depart Fort Lauderdale, Florida, U.S.; Valparaiso, Chile; and Buenos Aires, Argentina; and are available in 14-, 21- and 32-day options.
Is rounding Cape Horn on your bucket list? Will you be joining us for this ultimate adventure? Tell us below!
December 2015 UPDATE: Take Advantage of View & Verandah
We want to make your dream cruise even dreamier with our new View & Verandah promotion. We’re offering stateroom upgrades, up to 10 percent off shore excursions and up to 25 percent off Collectors’ Voyages on 2016-2017 sailings when booked by Feb. 29, 2016. Check out the offer to see if your dream cruise is included and book now!