became a graveyard for several hundred ships. The sun shines here just a couple of days a year. The rest of the time fog and strong wind hamper navigation. In order to get from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, you don't necessarily have to go around Cape Horn. You can use the Panama Canal dug in 1914 or the Beagle Channel, or Strait of Magellan. Today you will get a geography lesson and learn more about the story of these channels and the 'Tierra del Fuego'...
Distance from Antarctica to Cape Horn is a little less than 500 miles (800 kilometers). This strait is called the Drake Passage. Francis Drake was an English pirate. In 1578 he passed through the Strait of Magellan from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean, where his ship was picked up by the strongest storm and carried away to the south. Thus he discovered the strait.
Waters of this strait are considered to be the most inhospitable in the world. The wind constantly blows from west to east around the globe. Its movement is almost never blocked by the land and it rages with terrible force. Therefore, these parallels are called the furious fifties and they neighbor with the roaring forties:
When we were crossing the Drake Passage on the way to Antarctica from the Falkland Islands for the first time, we got into heavy fog. Our officers told us that fog here is a common occurrence:
On the way back the absence of fog was compensated by biting rain and strong wind:
After 24 hours the captain announced that we were approaching Cape Horn:
It was named so not because South America resembles the Horn, but after the Dutch town De Goorn. It is the native town of the captain of the ship who reached this point of South America for the first time. It's mistakenly considered by many people as the most southern point, although in 62 miles (100 kilometers) to the south there is a pair of small islands that are in fact 'the most southern point of South America'.
Traditionally, sailors who managed to sail around the Cape Horn and survive had the right to wear a gold earring in their left ear:
After going around Cape Horn we went in the direction of the Beagle Channel. Its waters are protected by the Andes from the Argentine side and by hills from the Chilean. Thus the Beagle Channel presents the last calm waters before the Antarctic. The channel was named in honor of the ship Beagle, which opened this channel and was here twice. After the first time, captain shot himself because of loneliness. He was the only intelligent person on the ship and the lack of communication with other educated people drove him crazy. The team went back to England, where the ship was headed by famous Robert FitzRoy. In order not to repeat the fate of the first captain, he took his friend and companion, Charles Darwin, on the expedition. Here Darwin first saw cormorants and penguins. Despite the fact that some could fly and the others couldn't, their similarities got Darwin thinking about evolution. Although it took him another 30 years to write his famous book 'The Origin of Species':
Early morning of the next day, we came to the capital of Tierra del Fuego -
Ushuaia is the most southern city in the world. Everything here 'is the southernmost in the world': 'the southernmost post office in the world', 'the southernmost store in the world', 'the southernmost park in the world' and so on. The majority of the expeditions to Antarctica start here. Before the construction of the Panama Canal, the city prospered due to passing ships. Then there was a period of decline, but with the development of Antarctic tourism, things got better. Now 60 000 people live here:
Before exploring the city, we embarked on a catamaran and went back down the Beagle Channel to observe wildlife. Catamaran was moored on the other side of the pier, and we had to just walk from one vessel to another:
, known as the 'Lighthouse at the end of the world':
There are a lot of small islands in the channel where South American sea lions, cormorants, and the Magellanic penguins live:
Cormorants are birds very similar to penguins, but they can fly and have a thin neck:
They have such coloring to escape from carnivorous animals. When cormorant is in the water, its black back blends into the dark water, and when it flies its white breast doesn't differ from the cloudy sky:
Sea lions live near them:
They climb up the cliff to their rookery in a funny way, lining up in the queue: