Best Time to Visit Cape Horn in Chile

August 3, 2021

Cape Horn is nestled on the southern tip of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago along the coast of South America. It’s a small locale on the island of Isla Hornos, and it’s home to some of the most incredible scenery imaginable.

Prior to the opening of the Panama Canal in 1914, Cape Horn was an important trade route between various colonial empires. Today, Cape Horn has become a sought-after destination included in the itineraries of  many seafaring voyages that allow travellers to experience the island in its raw form.

the southern tip of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago along the coast of South America

A journey to Cape Horn means an unforgettable trip to the southern tip of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago along the coast of
South America.Photo: AdobeStock

Where is Cape Horn located?

As mentioned, Cape Horn is part of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago in the Southern Ocean off the coast of mainland Chile. On the southern tip of Isla Hornos is a destination marked as the “Southernmost Point of the World,” and Cape Horn is located due south of that location.

Cape Horn is technically one of the southernmost points of Chile. It serves as the crest point that connects the Atlantic, Pacific, and Southern oceans. This location was pivotal in Cape Horn’s development  into an important trading post in its heyday, and it now capture the hearts and minds of travelers each year who set out to experience the natural wonders of the region.

How to get to Cape Horn, Chile

As a remote island expedition, there are no direct flights that travel to Cape Horn or the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Instead, you’ll need to book passage on a voyage that travels by sea to this remote destination.

One option to visit the beautiful landscape of Cape Horn is Quark Expeditions’ “Essential Patagonia: Chilean Fjords and Torres del Paine.”  This 15-day expedition takes you through the entire Tierra del Fuego archipelago and sails northbound to Torres del Paine national park in Patagonian Chile.

On Day 3 of the expedition, you’ll visit Cape Horn on a journey that includes the Drake Passage and all that there is to experience in the “Southernmost Point of the World.” Depending on weather conditions, you’ll get a chance to go ashore and explore the Stella Maris Chapel that was converted from an old lighthouse that was established over a century ago. You’ll have an opportunity to take in the panoramic view of the island and the surrounding ocean as as you explore the area.

When is the best time to visit Cape Horn?

The northern and southern hemispheres have opposite seasons throughout the year. When it’s winter in the north, it’s summer in the south and vice versa. The powerful strength of the Southern Ocean makes for particularly challenging travel conditions during the winter months, which makes Cape Horn a destination that you should only try to visit during the summer.

Experienced travellers to Cape Horn recommend that you visit during the warmer months between November and March when the waves of the ocean are less choppy. Coincidentally, the “Essential Patagonia: Chilean Fjords and Torres del Paine” voyage is scheduled to sail during the final two weeks of March, which makes it a perfect way to bookend the southern summer season with an adventure to remember.

To prepare for your excursion to the deep south of the world, you can listen to an experienced guide outline what to do and what to prepare for during your time in Cape Horn by listening to this webinar recording.

The panoramic views alone are worth the trip to Cape Horn

The panoramic views alone are worth the trip to Cape Horn Photo: AdobeStock

Do cruise ships go around Cape Horn?

Cruise ships and expedition vessels do travel around Cape Horn when the weather conditions allow. During the summer months, the weather is more tame and the waves of the sea are less rambunctious around the Tierra del Fuego archipelago.

For that reason, you want to make sure that you book passage on a ship operated by a trusted adventure and excursion company. There are unforgettable scenic experiences to witness in Cape Horn if you make the proper arrangements and bring the equipment necessary..

What to pack for a cruise around Cape Horn

Since Cape Horn is located on the cusp of Antarctica in very cold oceanic climates, it’s very important that you pack the right gear and protective equipment for your adventure into the Tierra del Fuego archipelago. Layers are an absolute necessity in these conditions, and you’ll want to consult with your expedition leaders before leaving home about the best types of clothing and equipment to pack for your adventure.

Here’s a helpful packing checklist to ensure you bring the right gear. Among the most important items to bring are:

  • Base layers of clothing
  • Mid-layers of clothing
  • Protective outerwear
  • Gloves and glove liners
  • Durable footwear
  • Hats and neckwarmers
  • Other accessories

And remember to bring your sense of adventure and open mind—always the best assets for a rewarding adventure.

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