History of Cape Horn

European eyes first set sight on Cape Horn at the beginning of the 17th century. The French merchant, Isaac Le Maire, and the sailors, Guillermo Cornelio and Juan Schouten crossed the strait on January 24 1616.

They called the strait Le Maire and gave the name Statenlant (Land of the States) to the island they sighted to the east. They called it “land” believing it to be a peninsula of Terra Australis Incognita.

Five days later, on January 29, 1616, they rounded the cape that they named Höorn, thus opening a new route between the Atlantic and the Pacific. They sailed through the Pacific with no clear idea of their course until they arrived at Java and the Moluccas.

Zodiac landing at Cape Horn, Tierra del Fuego, Chile

Zodiac landing at Cape Horn

The International Association of Cape Horniers

The association was founded in 1937 in Saint Malo (France) by a group of French captains whose first members were experienced seamen that had sailed around Cape Horn in command of the old merchant ships. Due to the passing of the majority of its members, the association was replaced by supporting organisations inspired by the same spirit of adventure.

The Chilean Association of Cape Horniers erected the Cape Horn monument in 1992, in memory of the seamen from every nation who have perished in the battle against the inclemency of nature in the southern seas, around the legendary Cape Horn.

To become an honorary member of the association you must touch the Cape Horn monument.

Chloe Cape Hornier

The family at the bottom of the world

As you disembark your cruise onto a zodiac boat, and sail towards Cape Horn, you'll notice the authentic Cape Horn lighthouse on the horizon. It is the world's most southernly lighthouse.  As you reach the shore and clamber off onto the boardwalk, you'll be greeted by the resident lighthouse keeper - a naval serviceman. It s his job to man the lighthouse, and he lives on the island for a year or more at a time with his family. Their weekly food supply is delivered by the cruise on which you arrive, and they will invite you into the warm to see their home. It's a fascinating experience!


Lighthouse at Cape Horn


Although many tales exist of hazardous journeys and terrible storms around Cape Horn, and Darwin himself said that 'one sight of such a coast is enough to make a landsman dream for a week about shipwrecks, peril & death',  the reality is that over 90% of cruises do disembark at Cape Horn. It can certainly be windy, rainy, and cold, but this really only adds to the drama and excitement of visiting such a wild and remote destination. You really do feel like you are at the end of the world - but you are in safe hands exploring it.

Swoop Says background image

Swoop says

If you're willing to brave the wild and historic waters to set foot on (not just sail past) Cape Horn, but prefer a comfy bed and good food along the way, then a cruise is definitely the way to do it.

Customer review background image

What our customers think of Cape Horn Cruises

Cape Horn Cruises trips scored 4.5/5 from 130 reviews

Customer Image

The highlight of the trip had to be a perfect day at Cape Horn in weather to die for. Surprises were everywhere while travelling down to the Cape, glaciers that eclipsed those in Alaska, wildlife to be seen on all our excursions.

Travelled: October 2017

Peter - Australia

Customer Image

A wonderful trip; perfect in every way with no snags. Thank you for all of your coordination. We were able to land on Cape Horn (the main reason I chose the cruise) which was great!

Travelled: December 2015

Bill -

Cape Horn was the most anticipated and most memorable experience but the other zodiak trips were truly exciting as well. Read the full review

Travelled: April 2018

Angie Littlefield - Canada

I'll tell my grandchildren that I've been to one of the few remaining wildernesses and that interesting life is not dependant on cities.

Travelled: February 2017

Colin - UK

The trips were really interesting and especially landing on Cape Horn! Plenty of Dolphins, Cormorants and Penguins.

Travelled: December 2016

Brian -

Sailing to Cape Horn was excellent, with great landscapes, wildlife, and charming and highly experienced skipper.

Travelled: December 2016

Stephen - UK

Crossing the Beagle Channel by Rib to Puerto Williams felt like reaching the end of the Earth - and it is. Especially with the view towards Cape Horn.

Travelled: January 2016

Alison -

The cruise was excellent, and we disembarked at Cape Horn which was one of the highlights of the trip for me. The crew members were very helpful and enthusiastic.

Travelled: March 2015

John -


Patagonia Cruises: FAQs

  • Will it be expensive?

    Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t have to be. If you plan in advance and book early, you can snap up a cabin in the cheapest category before anyone else. We work very closely with a range of cruise and operators in Patagonia and know the best early booking discounts. There are some excellent low season rates too, if you’re willing to travel at the start/end of the season.

    We offer cruises and boat trips to suit a wide spectrum of budgets, from around $600 USD for a 1 day whale watching trip to $4,000 for the best cabin in high season on a luxury adventure cruise vessel.

  • I’m not normally a cruise person. Is an adventure cruise really for me?

    Our Adventure Cruises have been described as ‘cruises for people who don’t do cruises’. Basing yourself from a boat is a great way to explore deep into the sparkling, mountain-lined fjords, both on and off the vessel, to watch crashing glaciers calve before you and wildlife going about their business, and experience the peaceful channels as the pioneers once did - with barely anyone else around.

  • How big are the ships? I don’t want to be on a big boat...

    We work with 15 different ships, small boats and sailboats, with capacity of between 10 to 210 passengers. Each ship has a different style and focus and we can talk you through the pros and cons of each, to help you to choose the best cruise for you.

  • How active will it be?

    We can help you choose the right cruise to suit you, depending on how active you want to be. All of our cruises and boat trips offer the opportunity to be active, but it’s not compulsory; excursions are optional and there are different effort levels available on some cruises, so that you can mix challenging hikes with more relaxed excursions - the choice is yours.

  • What routes do Patagonia cruises take?

    The most popular Patagonia cruise routes run between Ushuaia (Argentina) and Punta Arenas (Chile), and are a great alternative to flights or bus journeys as they combine border crossings with sightseeing along the way. There are also a number of ‘there and back’ trips, for example from/to Punta Arenas, Puerto Natales, Ushuaia, Puerto Montt and Puerto Aysen - great if you want to start and end in the same place.

Swoop Says background image

Chloe O'Keeffe says

Cape Horn was not on my bucket list, but when I disembarked onto the island, I was struck by its rugged beauty and remote location, and realised it should have been! I was fascinated to learn about its incredible history from the expedition team.

Swoop Expert

Cape Horn

Cape Horn, at the furthest tip of South America, is a windswept, dramatic region of historic sailing routes and diverse wildlife. It can be experienced on large-vessel sea voyages, challenging journeys on smaller yachts, scenic flights and even an intense kayak trip all the way from Ushuaia.


Other ways to explore Patagonia

Wildlife Cruises

Wildlife Cruises

Patagonia's coastlines are teeming with wildlife activity, and the best way to immerse yourself in the action and capture some incredible photos is by cruise or boat. Choose from …

Discover More

Glacier Cruises

Glacier Cruises

Patagonia is famous for its many glaciers, and some of the most interesting and stunning can only be accessed from the water, by boat. The wild and remote scenery will make you …

Discover More

Ready to plan your Patagonia adventure?



We'll spend some time listening to your aspirations, then discuss the kind of experience that might suit you.



Next we'll discuss the options, shortlist the best trips for you and present you our impartial recommendations.



We'll place a 24 hour hold on your preferred option - without obligation - whilst we talk through the details.

Whatever your budget, group size, length of stay, preferred activity or appetite for adventure, we can help.