A Windswept Headland

Steep, rocky and impossibly windy, Cape Horn is known as a route of legend, this island gateway at the end of the Americas has lured centuries of explorers along its path.

A Meeting of Oceans

A wild ocean ecosystem abundant in marine life, where the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans combine.

The Orgins of Cape Horn

There’s a novelty to being at the end of the world. Set in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile—in a land rife with ancient glaciers and home to the world’s southernmost kelp forest—CapeHorn is an ancient, intriguing region of extremes where a complex ecosystem thrives. Once on a vital path of the Americas maritime trade route, it’s a land with a storied past, where shipwrecked explorers found refuge and native peoples thrived in the region’s lenga forests and waterways by hunting with harpoons from wooden canoes.

Spilling into the Drake Passage— where sub-polar and polar waters of the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern Oceans clash—CapeHorn and the surrounding Magallanes region are home to a wild ocean abundant in marine mammals and seabirds. Throughout the region, Antarctica21 travelers can witness sea lions dash through the waters for prey, black-browed albatross circle the sky and red-eyed rockhopper penguins find refuge in one of the species most important nesting grounds.

Profile picture of a Skua sea bird, photographed by Ruslan Eliseev, for Antarctica21.
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    Climate

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    Discovery

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    Geography

Wildlife

Minke whale in Antarctica.
Orcas in Antarctica. Photography by Keegan Pearson, on a Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise.
Black-browed albatross in the Falklands
Cape o Pintado Petrel photographed by Mathew Farrell on an Antarctica Express, on board Hebridean Sky.
A blue-eyed cormorant or blue-eyed shag. Photography by Ruslan Eliseev, on an Antarctica Express Air-Cruise.
Antarctic sea bird, Snowy Sheathbill. Photography by Keegan Pearson, on a Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise.
Northern giant petrel found in South Georgia. Photography by Ruslan Eliseev.
Minke whale in Antarctica.

Minke Whale

The southern minke whale is a species of minke whale within the suborder of baleen whales. It is the third smallest baleen whale. While it was first scientifically described in the mid-19th century, it wasn’t recognized as a distinct species until the 1990s. Given that it was ignored by the whaling industry due to its small size and low oil yield, the southern minke was able to avoid the fate of other baleen whales and maintained a large population into the 21st century, numbering in the hundreds of thousands. It has survived to become the most abundant baleen whale in the world.

Orcas in Antarctica. Photography by Keegan Pearson, on a Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise.

Orca Whale

The orca is the largest member of the dolphin family, and it is probably the most easily recognized of all cetaceans. The most obvious feature is the enormous dorsal fin, which is the tallest and most pointed of any cetaceans. In adult males, it may stand two metres in height, while in females and immature males it is more curved and smaller. They have a striking black and white pattern from throat to abdomen, some of their flanks, and an oval blaze behind the eye white, with the rest mainly black. The huge conical head is pointed with a very slightly rounded beak. Males can reach 7 to 9 metres in length and weigh 3.8 to 5.5 tonnes. Females are noticeably smaller in overall body size, reaching 5 to 7.7 metres length.

Black-browed albatross in the Falklands

Black-Browed Albatross

The black-browed albatross is one of the smaller black and white ‘mollymawks’ with a pale head. This albatross can be identified at a distance by its underwing pattern featuring a wide dark leading edge. At close range, the adult birds have a yellow eye that makes identification easy.
Size 80-96 cm
Wing 50-56 cm
Wingspan 210-250 cm
Weight 2.9 to 4.6 kg

Cape o Pintado Petrel photographed by Mathew Farrell on an Antarctica Express, on board Hebridean Sky.

Cape or Pintado Petrel

The cape petrel is an unmistakable medium-sized petrel, with a round head and highly distinctive black and white upperparts and upper wings, smaller than the Antarctic petrel. Its speckled appearance has earned its other common name, pintado, which means ‘painted’ in Spanish. The cape petrel has a circumpolar distribution at sea. It has a wide breeding range from the Antarctic continent to the more southerly Subantarctic islands, where it breeds in November and December in loose colonies on level rocky grounds or gravel, and moderately high cliffs.
Size 35-42 cm
Wing 24-28 cm
Wingspan 80-91 cm
Weight 440-500 gr.

A blue-eyed cormorant or blue-eyed shag. Photography by Ruslan Eliseev, on an Antarctica Express Air-Cruise.

Blue-Eyed Shag

There is no clear agreement on how many species of cormorants inhabit the southern islands and the Antarctic Peninsula. There could be as many as seven or as few as two surrounding Antarctica, depending on what taxonomic diversity they have. All are reasonably similar, but the Antarctic shag is unmistakable in range because no other blue-eyed shag overlaps with it. They are rather large and have a black and white shag, with a bright blue-eyed ring, with a long wispy black erectile crest.
Size 77 cm
Wing 32-33 cm
Weight 2.5-3 kg

Antarctic sea bird, Snowy Sheathbill. Photography by Keegan Pearson, on a Classic Antarctica Air-Cruise.

Snowy Sheathbill

The snowy sheathbill is a medium-sized, plump hen-like, all-white bird. They are not seabirds because, for example, their feet are not webbed, but are in their own family akin to waders. They cannot be mistaken for anything else as they strut and squabble around penguin colonies. They have elaborate courtship displays and are monogamous and permanently pair-bonded species. They feed on intertidal life and on invertebrates.
Size 34-40 cm
Wingspan 70 cm
Weight 400-700 gr.
Size 77 cm
Wing 32-33 cm
Weight 2.5-3 kg

Northern giant petrel found in South Georgia. Photography by Ruslan Eliseev.

Southern Giant-Petrel

Giant-petrels are the largest of the petrel family, which make up the order of tubenose or procellariiform seabirds, along with albatrosses, shearwaters, storm petrels, and diving petrels. The crucial feature used to distinguish the northern giant petrel from the closely related southern giant petrel is the color of the bill tip: reddish-brown in the northern, and greenish in the southern. This characteristic is not always easy to spot at sea. Some southerns are all white, except for the odd dark feathers. This color phase does not occur in northerns, helping with identification. White phase southerns are more common at southerly breeding sites and are absent at the northerly ones.
Size 85-100 cm
Wing 46-58 cm
Wingspan 150-210 cm
Weight 3.8-5 k
Size 77 cm
Wing 32-33 cm
Weight 2.5-3 kg

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