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Travelogue Cape Horn: A realized dream trip

Our colleague Angela has realized her big dream! She has traveled to Cape Horn! The trip started in Colombia, then on to Chile, Argentina and Uruguay. During a cruise at the southernmost end of South America, she experienced breathtaking landscapes, saw penguins and made great trips. Learn more about the extraordinary dream trip around Cape Horn.

For years I have dreamed of sailing around Cape Horn with a tall ship, and because some dreams have become more modest over the years, I do not have this dream with a sailing ship, but quite comfortably with the cruise ship, but with a lot of social program in South America, realized.
Our first stop was Bogotawhere we visit friends and a little impression of Colombia have received: Great scenery and a rich cultural heritage. Thanks to the mineral wealth, the country was very far ahead early on. Be sure to visit the Gold Museum in Bogota !!

Two more highlights: the Mount Monserrate, a pilgrimage site for the Catholics and a great viewpoint at over 3,000 meters altitude and the Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira, a unique salt mine in which the former mining tunnels are now a mystical cloister and a gigantic nave. In Bogota's old town La Candelaria, with many colonial houses, there are a few beautiful boutique hotels.

Unfortunately we had to continue after two days. Next destination was Santiago de Chile, after all, about 6 hours flight time from Bogota. The city is not spectacular, it is just sympathetic. Somehow sexist I felt the local old coffee house culture – served in tight dresses and short skirts and in the past were only men in these cafes.

After a comprehensive city tour with old market hall, cathedral, racecourse and various parts of the city it continued. Santiago can be reached in about 1.5 hours across one of the Chilean wine-growing regions Valparaiso, a unique city on countless hills. Soberly, the city is quite dilapidated, including the elevators and funiculars that help you climb the many hills. With the pink holiday glasses, the place is very picturesque, many artists have settled here. There are boutiques, restaurants, small hotels and guesthouses for backpackers and countless miles away Vina del Mar., a seaside resort with a long sandy beach. The old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered the cultural capital of Chile.

The next day the cruise finally started. The first "encounter" with a floating hotel I always find particularly exciting. As you stand then as a small person next to a colossus of about 30m in height and a good 250m in length, which is home for the next few days.

The first day of the sea we have pretty lazy. The big advantage on cruise ships: There is always something to eat somewhere. So it does not matter if I oversleep breakfast or are not hungry at lunchtime, I can eat whenever I want.
Puerto Monttour first port was equal to tender port, i. Disembarkation with the lifeboats. Our booked excursion was supposed to start early, the agency had recommended that we sit in one of the first tender boats and that's why our little group felt like meeting up before getting up to get tender boat tickets for the first boat, which also worked.
In the area of ​​Puerto Montt there are a few highlights: the rapids of Petrohue, the Todos los Santos Lago, the large lake Llanquihue with a green lagoon and the city of Puerto Varas with a lot of German influence. And our tour has "ticked off" all these points. Unfortunately, I would have stayed longer in one of the places and perhaps went hiking for 2 hours.

Puerto Montt

Rapids in Puerto Montt

We have that in the next port Puerto Chacabuco made. The place offers almost nothing, but has a great environment. We were able to admire them on a tour with Angelika, who comes from Hesse and emigrated to Chile a few years ago. After a nice drive through the river valley of the Rio Aysen and the Rio Simson, we were with our small group of 10 people in the National Park of Coihaique about 3 hours hiking. Our packed lunch was the tastiest sandwiches on this trip with optional water, soda or a delicious local beer.

View Coyahique


The two following days were wonderfully relaxing. For entertainment or rather for amusement, we have allowed ourselves to participate in an art auction. A popular pastime on American cruise ships, is increasingly offered by European shipping companies. Despite a good knowledge of English, I did not really understand what I needed to do to get one of the pictures for a good price. Alternatively, there were lectures, sports, fitness, knitting courses, towel or napkin folds and the like, actually something for every taste. Or man / woman just reads a good book. With Wi-Fi on board you should not necessarily expect. It is offered, even as a flatrate, but at a daily rate for which I surf unlimited in Germany for a month, and it should have been slow.

And then we were there: Punta Arenas, Patagonia, southernmost tip of the American continent, almost on the Antarctic. In Punta Arenas we had a very special trip and were only 5 people from the ship. I really wanted to go horse riding in Patagonia and kayaking on the Strait of Magellan was the icing on the cake. It was awesome. Three guides for us, all spoke English and one even German, great equipment (drysuits, neoprene gloves, life jacket) we were equipped with, good explanations. Only we had to paddle ourselves. That was OK on the way there, wind and waves from behind. On the way back both came from the front – very exhausting! We were rewarded with a lunch in a cozy and hospitable hosteria and fortified for riding. Although we were only about 2 hours walking and a little trot on the way, we have experienced different landscapes in this short time. And had, back on board, much to tell.

Fellow travelers had in Punta Arenas made the penguin trip to Isla Magdalena. At the end of the journey, it was clear to her that this was the best penguin tour.

The next day we had or wanted to get up early, although we did not arrive until noon in the harbor. But at about 7:00 am, the MS Norwegian Sun passed by the Beagle Channel on one glacier after another. They are named after the nationalities of the sailors aboard the first ship that discovered this channel (for example, Glacier Aleman, Glacier Francia). Next stop: Ushuaia, the gateway to the Antarctic. The place is strongly geared towards "outdoor". The expedition ships start here in the Antarctic, the small cruise ships start here to Cape Horn and hikes and tours in the national parks go here.
We had again booked a tour (6 people) and had a great, very knowledgeable guide, the us in the "Tierra del Fuego"National Park has led. His explanations and stories on flora and fauna have given us interesting insights into what happens when humans try to intervene in the ecosystem, e.g. Foxes are to be settled, the rabbits are to eat, but prefer to fall on the geese. Or beaver, which were intended for fur farming, multiply rapidly due to the lack of natural enemies and dammed by their beaver constructions the streams and die the trees and thus bring much damage.
The next morning another highlight was on the program – the Trip to Cape Horn, I had expected with monster waves, storm, rain and fog. Up to 250 km / h, the wind can reach here and it rains over 250 days, about 800 ships have gone down the Cape, drowned ten thousand sailors – and what we had: sun & clouds, pottebene lake and a weak wind for the Cape. It was still cold, and especially early in the day, but thanks to the great explanations of the editor an exciting morning hour around the Cape.

With binoculars and a telephoto lens, we were able to spot the lighthouse, the Albatross memorial, and even the people who had landed on other ships and taken enough pictures to set course for the Falkland Islands. At the pool deck, the "Cape Hoorn" baptism took place at noon, captain and hotel manager dumped a ladle of ice-cold water over their heads, the on-board photographers took a lot of pictures and the laundry had a lot to do afterwards everyone got a bath towel to dry off.

Before the stage to the Falklands I had the most respect and calculated with restless sea and cold weather, but we got a sunburn. We could comfortably read a book in the sheltered corners of the pool deck and let the sun shine on our faces.

The Falkland Islands are really not much more than a few rocks in the Atlantic.
We did not book a tour because 1) really expensive and 2) we had read, you could even walk to a small penguin colony. For the first and only time, we really had to brave the weather during this walk. It was cold, windy and raining and I was grateful for our good outdoor clothes that kept us dry. After almost 2 hours through the town of Stanley and wild-barren landscape, we were in the Gypsy Cove (with tens of others who were traveling by tour or shuttle bus) and have seen our first penguins. A small group was sitting far away on the beach, but a joker came to the way, we could have packed it up, he was so close, trusting and curious.

In the afternoon we have Stanley in the best sunshine in the direction Puerto Madryn left again and had another sea day in calm sea in front of us.

There are two interesting tours in this harbor, one of which leads to the world's largest penguin colony Punta Tombo – and had been booked by about 2/3 of the guests of the ship. Due to the short time window due to the laytime of the ship and about 2 hours of travel time were all about the same time there. But despite mass casserole, it was impressive. In Punta Tombo, about 500,000 Magellanic penguins mate, breed and live in the time from September, up to 2 km inland to build their nests!

Penguins Punto Tombo

Penguins in Punta Tombo

That was unfortunately also our farewell to the "landscape ports" and Patagonia. After another day of sea we were gently back in civilization, in Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. The city is located on the Rio de la Plata, has a good 1 million inhabitants and is considered one of the safest cities in South America. Again, there is a beautiful, old market hall, in which many Asado restaurants are, every meat lover goes to the heart, every vegetarian probably gets the crisis. We just walked around the city, looked at the main squares, visited the Monument to the Freedom Fighter Artigas and the Cathedral and had two nice conversations with locals about the country and its people.

Montevideo Grill

Street food Montevideo

Farewell to the cruise ship. In the evening we drink the last time a few cocktails in "our" round, fellow travelers, who found the excursions and spent a few hours together. The disembarkation in the next morning is well organized Buenos Aires ahead, around 9:30 clock our color is called and we leave the ship.
Our guide Sonia Damerau picks us up at the harbor. She has incredible knowledge about the city and the whole country, which she sympathetically communicates to us. We enjoy having another guide just for the two of us. This is expensive, but so the visits and experiences are much more personal and intense. Even Argentina has a famous freedom fighter: We visited the mausoleum of General San Martin in the main cathedral. Everything important about the city you can read here, so just in short our highlights:
– Strolling through the La Boca neighborhood, home to the football stadium Boca Juniors, colorful, colorful, packed with tourists, Argentina's national hero is on every corner. Diego Maradona was replaced by Pope Francis.
– The cemetery of Recoleta, where Evita is buried, but the impressive ones are the tomb houses that make the cemetery look like a small town.
– The flea market of San Telmo on Sunday. After the end of the market at 16 o'clock there is "street tango". One of the dancer couples was a grandfather with his pregnant granddaughter – so much zest for life that flashed from the old man's eyes and so much eroticism in the movements!Cape Horn

The highlight of the evening: The Argentine Experience. This is where people from all over the world come together. There are good, Argentine wine unlimited and a lot of information about the Argentine food, which are told with a lot of fun. We designed our own empanadas, learned a lot about steaks, made alfajores ourselves, and learned how to make and consume mate correctly.

Argentine Experience

Argentine Experience

The evening in the Tango Show Viejo Almacen was only mediocre. Especially the food, which can optionally be booked before the show, you can save yourself. The quality was good, but the atmosphere more like a canteen. The show itself is perfect, it should be one of the best, but is pure consumption, you are not in the middle.
Traveling passengers from the ship had made a trip to the Tigre Delta and were totally thrilled.
You can do a lot of walking in Buenos Aires, or you can easily travel by subway. At the hotel you should consider whether it is better in the city center or the new, modern waterfront Puerto Madero, or in the younger districts of Palermo, Palermo Hollywood or Palermo Soho.

My conclusion: I have to go there again. But then by bus or rental car, a lot of time to walk in the national parks of Patagonia, and a small cruise that brings me even closer to the glaciers and the islands. Even the pampas of Argentina and the Atacama Desert in Chile are still high on the wish list.

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