Cruising Around the Cape Horn

It was a pleasant cruising of 4000 nautical miles from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Valparaiso, Chile. Prior to boarding our cruise, we spent couple of days in the Jewel city of South America, the magnificent Buenos Aires. This is the capital city of Argentina with a population of around 2.89 million people. The city is known for its broad avenues and stunning mixture of old and modern buildings. Evita Peron, the first lady of Argentina from 1946 until her death in 1952, still dominates the touristic spots in Buenos Aires. Beef is the national dish of Argentina.  It was hard for us to find good vegetables and Seafood during our short stay. We are sure that there are many good seafood restaurants in the city but we ended up in the restaurants that served meat dishes with blend of Spanish and Italian flavor. Empanadas, deep fried or baked filled pastries with meat stuffing, are popular common people food.

On the cruise, Our first stop was at Punta Del Este, Uruguay. Nestled between Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay is the second­- smallest country in South America. Punta Del Este is a charming city, a picturesque peninsula known for its beautiful beaches. We saw the collection of contemporary and surrealist art at the Ralli Museum. We also visited Casapueblo, a museum-residence artistically constructed to resemble a huge sculpture, which served as the home of one of Uruguay’s most innovative artist, Carlos Paez Vilaro.

The next port was Puerto Madryn, Argentina. It is one of South America’s largest breeding grounds for birds and mammals. We saw sea lions and penguins at Punta Tombo Natural Reserve. The Valdes Peninsula and its surrounding areas offer an unparalleled landscape of plateaus. It is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

We arrived in Stanley harbor, Capital of the Falklands. Colorful houses occupy the low rolling moorland bordering Stanley Harbor. The islands are under British Control. The climate also resembles London’s in addition to fierce winds and waves of South Atlantic.

Next, we arrived at USHUAIA, Argentina. From the rugged peaks, pristine lakes and ancient forest of the Andes to the glacier-draped shores of the famed Beagle Channel, lies the worlds’ southernmost national park, Tierra del Fuego. The population of the city is 56,956 (est. 2012). The vistas from the balcony of our ship were superb when we sailed around the Cape Horn. We cruised alongside Mount Olivia and Mount Escapando. The highlight was reaching the renowned “Les Eclaireurs” lighthouse affectionately dubbed “The lighthouse at the end of the world.” 

We arrived at Punta Arenas located on the Brunswick Peninsula, at the Strait of Magellan, at the southern tip of Chile. It is the third largest city in the Patagonia region with a population of 127,454 (2012). We went to Patagonia Trek & Andean Club for an exhilarating mountainside experience. We took a chair lift up the slopes and hiked down the mountain. The city is also the gateway to Chilean Patagonia, a maze of fjords, rivers, steppes and mountains to the north. To the south lies the great frozen mass of Antarctica.

Our ship reached the end of the Magellan Strait and turned to a Northerly heading to follow the Chilean coastline. We sailed along the famous Skua Glacier in the Amalia field. The scenery was stunning. We reached Puerto Montt, Chile. This city is the gateway to Chile’s magnificent Lake District. Here, the snow capped volcanoes gaze down on alpine valleys nestled among low hills. We went to Lake Esmeralda, scenic wonders of the Lake District. We sailed away on the beautiful Esmeralda Lake aboard a catamaran and strolled around the picturesque Petrohue falls. We also visited Puerto Varas, nicknamed the “City of Roses” for its many rose-lined streets.

We disembarked at Valparaiso, Chile. Valparaiso is Chile’s oldest city and it is also the gateway to Chile’s central valley and the capital Santiago. We visited Valparaiso’s historic district with a bay bordered by a hilly landscape dotted with stately old Victorian homes painted bright colors. We noticed graffiti everywhere in the city and it was bit annoying. The city has been designated as the World Heritage site by UNESCO. We then proceeded to the seaside resort of Vina Del Mar a hotspot for tourism with palm-lined boulevards, lush parks and beaches. We then went to City of Elms otherwise known as “Olmue.” Here lies the La Campana National Park once visited by English Naturalist Charles Darwin.

After lunch, we drove across the coastal range to Pan-American Highway en route to Santiago. Pan-American Highway is a network of roads stretching from Prudhoe Bay, Alaska to Ushuaia, Argentina, a distance of around 30,000 miles. It runs through 14 countries and is the longest “motorable road” except with the interruption of 100 miles Darien Gap between Central and South America.

Santiago is a charming and bustling city full of life. Its main square is Plaza de Armas. The city has beautiful parks and a mixture of charming old and modern buildings. Santa Lucia is a small hill and an oasis in the center of Santiago. We climbed at the top of the hill from where the views of the city and the Andes Mountain were stunning. We also took an excursion to Isla Negra, Pablo Neruda’s favorite place. The visit to this Nobel Prize winner’s house located in the coastal area of Isla Negra was an extraordinary experience. By seeing a collection of more than 3,500 objects, one can really feel the poet and his verses. Later, we visited Matetic Vineyard located in San Antonio Valley. Chile has many vineyards and produces excellent wines.

Overall, our trip was extremely enjoyable and we learned a quite bit more about our beautiful world. We encourage our readers to explore this area.