On our final morning aboard National Geographic Explorer we woke early and were pleased to see land in sight on the horizon after our crossing of the Drake Passage. As the ship neared the coast, we could view the famous Cape Horn or Cabo de Hornos, the southernmost headland of the Tierra del Fuego archipelago of southern Chile.
This landmark was first discovered in 1616 by Willem Schouten from Holland. Before the Panama Canal allowed access to ship traffic between the Pacific and Atlantic Oceans, ships had to navigate around this headland and were exposed to the notorious winds, swells, and storms of these lower latitudes in the Southern Ocean.
After a relaxing breakfast, guests enjoyed the calmer waters of the coastal seas. As the ship progressed towards the Beagle Channel, we had many opportunities to see and photograph sooty shearwaters, black-browed albatrosses, and imperial shags. Eager observers on the Bridge also spotted a South American sea lion and a sei whale, the third-largest whale species on the planet. We found more sei whales later on in the afternoon as we made our way towards Ushuaia. As we enjoyed the presence of these 60-foot-long marine mammals, a pod of curious dusky dolphins appeared and playfully rode the bow of National Geographic Explorer.