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The only place in the world where the waters of the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans meet, Cape Horn’s history is steeped in the legends of hundreds of sailors who set out upon its waters in search of the planet’s southernmost point. The park is home to a surprising diversity of marine birds, among them the Southern Giant Petrel, and also provides a habitat for sub-Antarctic forests, which grow short and squat to adapt to the gale-force winds. The park is located in the Wolaston Archipelago, in the Hermite Islands complex, and was declared a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve. This designation also protects 7,331,706 acres of sea, making it the first protected wild area in Chile that includes both land and marine ecosystems.
The park is home to the southernmost forest on the planet, featuring one-of-a-kind sub-Antarctic forests, a habitat for species such as Canelos, Coigües, and Ñirres, which grow sturdy and squat to adapt to winds of up to 93 miles/hour. Peat bogs also cover a large portion of the island’s surface. Over 400 species of Moss and 300 species of Liverworts can be found in the park––a plant world in miniature that helps make Cape Horn a renowned icon of biodiversity.
One of the park’s most emblematic inhabitants is the Albatross, its largest flying species, with an adult wingspan that can reach up to 11.5 feet. The park is also home to Southern Giant Petrels, Magellanic Penguins, and a large diversity of marine fauna, including Southern Elephant Seals, Southern Right Whales, Peale’s Dolphins, Chilean Dolphins, Chungungos (Marine Otters), and bird species such as the Fío Fío (White-Crested Elaenia).
The Yámanas people were the world’s southernmost inhabitants, fishermen and gatherers who sailed the Beagle Channel to the north, the Brecknock Peninsula to the west, and Cape Horn to the south. They rowed in 16-foot-long canoes made from Coigüe bark, with sails made from the skin of sea lions. The watercraft were sturdy enough that they could light fires while aboard. The women dived in the cold waters, hunting for urchins and crabs. The Yámanas people also had a rich language: in 1933, the missionary Thomas Bridges published a Yámana-English dictionary, which contained more than 30,000 words. Orundellico, or Jemmy Button, was a Yáman man who sailed with Fitz Roy and Charles Darwin.
There is no land access to the park.
Cabo de Hornos National Park is a 12-hour voyage from Puerto Williams. The archipelago has only two authorized ports (Puerto Maxwell in the Hermite Islands and Caleta Martial on Isla Herschel) and only certain types of boats are permitted to dock.
In Punta Arenas, cruises are available, taking passengers to and from Cape Horn in a round-trip visit that lasts 7 days, during which you’ll visit part of the park.
LATAM and Sky Airlines offer daily flights to Punta Arenas. From Punta Arenas, you can take a ferry (www.tabsa.cl) or a flight on DAP Airlines to reach Puerto Williams, the city closest to the park. You can get to Cape Horn from Puerto Williams via private flight or by boat, the latter a voyage of roughly 12 hours.
1 hour (out and back)
2,395 feet (one way)
October to April
This trail begins at the pier and ends at the mayor’s office and the Monument to the Sailor.
Starting Point: Pier
Punta Arenas is the largest city in the Magallanes region and the main port for maritime travel north and south along the Chilean coast and to the Argentine port of Ushuaia.
Villa Cameron is a village of around 60 people along the southern coast of Bahía Inútil (Useless Bay), on the big island of Tierra del Fuego.
Porvenir is the largest city in Tierra del Fuego, located across the Strait of Magellan from Punta Arenas. You can reach it crossing the strait by ferry.
The southernmost city in the world, Puerto Williams can be found along the northern shore of Isla Navarino, south of the Beagle Channel.
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