Mare Australis, a Tierra del Fuego Classic

Considered by many the most surprising outing in Ushuaia which everyone will love, even those who never dreamed of reaching Cape Horn

As children, most of us loved adventures at the end of the world: remote places where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans collide were the setting for sailors and explorers of the most barren, wild landscapes on the face of the earth. Although it seemed impossible after my travel companion and I had checked in, it was time to board the Mare Australis cruiser.

The Mare Australis is a 73-meter-long craft for 129 passengers. It is fitted with all the necessary equipment to guarantee the safety of the crew as well as technological devices to sail in this part of the world.

One of its most outstanding characteristics is that the expedition vessel uses semi-rigid zodiacs with outboard motors to go on land. Once on solid ground, the passengers can trek on this indomitable land which intrepid navigators first set foot on in the seventeenth, eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

As soon as visitors have boarded and left their luggage, they curiously go over the craft to become acquainted with their home for the duration of the outing. Mare Australis has five decks, an elegant dining room, two lounges with bars and two outdoor decks, much appreciated by smokers.

  • Fjords doomsday

    Fjords doomsday

  • Eagle glacier

    Eagle glacier

  • Cabo de Hornos lighthouse

    Cabo de Hornos lighthouse

  • Magdalena Island

    Magdalena Island

  • We sail to Horn Island

    We sail to Horn Island

  • The Atlantic and Pacific oceans merge

    The Atlantic and Pacific oceans merge

We befriended other passengers at a welcome cocktail where we also met the captain, officers and guides of the expedition, who gave us a safety talk.

A tango show reminded us we were still in Argentina. Foreign tourists just could not stop clapping. In a matter of minutes, we would set sail and the adventure would begin.

Setting Sail

After sailing only a few minutes, we enjoyed a spectacular view of the City of Ushuaia from the windows of the lounge where lunch and dinner would be served every day.

Night had fallen and, after many toasts, it was time to call it a day. Cape Horn awaited us the next morning. During the night we had sailed along Murray Channel, past Nassua Bay, Wollaston and L’Hermite Islands.

Day 2. At the Famous Cape

At six in the morning, after an ’early bird coffee’ we put on boots and carried umbrellas. We were allotted a zodiac for our first landing at the cape.

When seen for the first time, it is no different from any of the islands around Tierra del Fuego. Nevertheless, its history deserves special consideration. It is the southernmost cape in the American continent and a critical point for navigators who brave its waters. It is where the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans collide, causing enormous waves and unparalleled atmospheric phenomena.

Upon reaching terra firma we climbed a staircase leading to a path where the Monument to Cape Horn stands, represented by an albatross.

Erected on December 5th, 1992, it is a homage to all the sailors who perished while attempting to sail past its rocky coast but also a greeting to all who arrive.

Lengas, cherry trees and winter’s bark bent by the wind populate the island. A visit to the lighthouse and the post office is a must. The family who lives there provides contact with the rest of the world by means of letters and stamps for only five dollars or euros.

As we left this legendary place, we were overcome by a special silence which stayed with us until we reached the deck of the Mare Australis.

Back on Board

Several choices awaited us back on board, visiting the game room, the bar, the decks and the bridge or attending one of the many talks and audiovisuals about the expedition. This is how we learned about the geography as well as the flora and fauna of the area.

Our guides told us tales of Spanish, Portuguese and English descent adventurers who played an essential role in the discovery and colonization of this land. Neither did they forget the first nations, their customs, myths and lifestyles.

Cuisine on the cruise was spectacular. Meals consisted of five courses and an unlimited supply of the best Chilean wine. Coffee or hot chocolate and delicious biscuits highlighted our afternoons. So, almost without noticing, it was time to enjoy the tasty Magellan crab, sushi or pink salmon à la crème.

Wualaia Bay, Paradise

Loudspeakers announced a new landing for those of us who wanted to visit Wualaia Bay.

Countless stories and legends have been spun about this place where indigenous peoples once lived. While we marveled at the scenery, gulls, cormorants, albatross and hundreds of other birds flew over our heads.

A rocky beach welcomed us before setting off along a path leading to a breathtaking view of the bay.

Day 3 Glaciers

Most of the `inhabitants` of Mare Australis were already awake when the sun began to shine through the windows. The captain told us we were traveling through a maze of channels like the Brecknock and Cockburn whose rocky, shrub covered islands have a few snow-capped peaks.

After lunch, we began cruising along Seno Chico until we reached an amazing 12- kilometer-long fjord which delighted all the visitors.

We continued along the cold walls of Plüschow Glacier, named after Günther Plüschow, one of the first aviators to fly over the area and photograph the Darwin Range from his plane, the Silver Condor.

Later, we navigated along the Piloto and Nena glaciers in the zodiacs. During this outing the route of these glaciers over 50,000 years ago can still be seen. Some of them are still on the move.

DAY 4 All Good Things Must End

Our southern adventure was coming to an end with only one stop left: Magdalena Island.

After another early bird coffee, we landed on the island hosting one of the most important penguin colonies in America. We walked to the lighthouse, whose beacon shines every night, and saw cormorants, southern gulls and some mammals, such as seals, besides penguins.

We returned to the Mare Australis, whose bow pointed towards Punta Arenas, Chile, and started saying our goodbyes to the crew and our new found friends. Myriad moments of this awesome trip came to mind.

The famous Cape Horn, a place we might never see again.

Autor Mónica Pons Fotografo Gentileza Cruceros Australis

Contact of the excursion or tour

Cruceros Australis

San Martin 409 - Ushuaia () Ciudad de Buenos Aires, Ciudad de Buenos Aires

DifficultyDifficulty: In all cases, the expedition guides will comment on the degree of difficulty of the trekking excursions. There are low, intermediate and high level hikes along the trip.

DurationDuration: 4 días y tres noches.

Bear in mindBear in mind: The Mare Australis has three levels of cabins for accommodation. The difference among them not only lies on where they are located. Accommodation on the top decks is more expensive, as better panoramic sights may be caught from there. As the ship sails across latitudes where the temperatures are low, I recommend that you pack warm clothes such as sweaters, jackets, gloves and hiking boots to be worn during landings. Inside the ship, the temperatures are mild; therefore, I suggest that you wear sport clothes.
The rate includes breakfast, lunch and dinner, open bar, daily excursions on land, welcome and farewell cocktails.
An aspect to bear in mind is that the cruiseship does not have elevators or other special services for the disabled.

There is a store on the M/N Mare Australis where passengers may buy sports clothes, presents and items for personal use. VISA, Mastercard, American Express and Diners credit cards, travelers’ checks, United States Dollars, Euros and Chilean Pesos are accepted for purchases made on board.
Duration: 4 days and 3 nights.


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