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Cape Horn and the Drake Passage

First sighted in 1578 by Sir Francis Drake, the rugged rocks of Cape Horn rise like a buttress out of the ocean and mark the southernmost point of Tierra del Fuego at the very tip of South America. Battered by the wind and ocean swells, Cape Horn (and now national park) was the scourge of the shipping world for centuries, a treacherous yet vital trade route which cost the lives of many sailors. Cape Horn also signals the start of the notorious Drake Passage, a 600 mile stretch of uninterrupted ocean that separates South America from the Antarctic Peninsula. Renowned for the heavy winds and turbulent swells, the passage sits on the Antarctic Convergence where colder polar water sinks beneath the warmer northern seas. The passage takes several days to cross, a huge expanse of ocean punctuated by distant icebergs and wandering albatross.