Expeditions to the Antarctic Peninsula,
South Georgia, Cape Horn, Falklands & Tierra Del Fuego

On this virtual tour you may see: Majestic mountains dipped in snow... Crystalline waterways... Whales, seals, Soaring Andes condors... Ice-blue Glaciers that shimmer like jewels...

Expeditions by sail, cruiser and plane to CAPE HORN,
Tierra Del Fuego, Antarctcia and South Georgia

An old copy of Ferdinand Magellan's chart
showing the Strait of Magellan and Cape Horn

Magellan discovered the Magellanic Islands
including Tierra Del Fuego (Ter De Fue) in 1520.

Staten Island: right

Old Map of The Strait of Magellan and Tierra Del Fuego by Emmanuel Bown, 1762

This Chart shows Cape Horn incorrectly as part of Tierra Del Fuego Island

Staten Island, which is an old 19th century Argentine prison location, is on the right

Another old chart by Leonardo Mercator in 1630
This shows the Strait of Magellan and also the SouthWest & SouthEast entrances to the Beagle Channel.
Note that, for lack of knowledge of the area, the entire Beagle Channel is not shown.


Ferdinand Magellan was the leader of the
first expedition to circumnavigate the world.
In Portuguese, his native tongue, his name
was Fernao de Magalhaes, but the Spanish
rendered this as Fernando de Magallanes.
Magellan was born c.1480 in northern
Portugal. Of noble parentage, he became a
page at the Portuguese court. In 1505 he
sailed for India under Francisco de ALMEIDA.
He apparently took part in fighting on the
East African coast and in the great
Portuguese naval victory over the Arabs off
Diu (1509) in the Indian Ocean. He is also
believed to have served in the fleet
commanded by Afonso de ALBUQUERQUE that
captured Malacca and gained control of the
Strait of Malacca in 1511. Although the
evidence is unclear, Magellan may well have
taken part in the voyage that reached the
Moluccas (Spice Islands) in 1511.

Magellan returned to Portugal in 1512 and
fought in Morocco the next year. Wounded
there, he petitioned the Portuguese crown to
increase his pension. His request was
refused, and in 1517 he went to Spain to
offer his services to King Charles I (later
Holy Roman Emperor Charles V).

By the Treaty of Tordesillas (1494), Spain
and Portugal had agreed to divide the
non-Christian world between them; all
territories to the west of the demarcation
line in the Atlantic Ocean were to be
Spanish; all those to the east, Portuguese.
In 1513, Vasco Nunez de Balboa had found an
ocean on the far side of the New World
discovered by Christopher Columbus. With the
Portuguese cosmographer Rui Faleiro, Magellan
now proposed to the Spanish an expedition to
find a passage through to this ocean and to
sail west to the Moluccas, thus proving that
the Spice Islands lay on the Spanish side of
the line of demarcation. King Charles
approved the plan, and after a year of
preparations the expedition left Seville on
Sept. 20, 1519.

The five ships, carrying about 270 men of
many nationalities, stopped in the Canary
Islands and reached the Bay of Rio de Janeiro
on December 13. They then sailed south,
probing the estuary of the Rio de la Plata
for the passage. While wintering at the Bay
of San Julian in Patagonia, Magellan
ruthlessly repressed an attempted mutiny,
executing one captain. One ship, the
Santiago, was wrecked on a reconnoitering
mission, and its crew was taken aboard the
other vessels.

On Oct. 21, 1520, the ships entered the
passage later to be called the Strait of
Magellan. They took over a month to travel
through the strait, during which time the
captain of the San Antonio deserted and
returned to Spain with the ship. On November
28, however, the three remaining vessels
emerged into what Magellan named the Pacific

They sailed north along the South American
coast and then, on December 18, headed west
into the unknown ocean. They sighted some
islands but made no landfall until they
reached Guam, in the Marianas, on Mar. 6,
1521. After reprovisioning, Magellan then
sailed to the islands later named the
Philippines. He persuaded the ruler of the
island of Cebu to accept Christianity, but he
became involved in a local war, and on Apr.
27, 1521, Magellan was killed in a fight with
natives on Mactan Island. Juan Sebastian del
CANO assumed command. Abandoning his ship,

the Concepcion, because it had been badly
damaged by shipworms, he took over the
Victoria and sailed to the Moluccas with the
Trinidad. Spices were purchased, and the
ships were refitted. Leaving the leaky
Trinidad behind to follow later, del Cano
departed for Spain with 47 Europeans and 13
natives of the islands aboard the Victoria.
(The Trinidad eventually sought to recross
the Pacific, but it turned back to the
Moluccas, where its crew was captured and
jailed by the Portuguese.)

After a voyage across the Indian Ocean,
around the Cape of Good Hope, and north
through the Atlantic Ocean, the Victoria
reached Seville on Sept. 8, 1522. Only 17
Europeans and 4 East Indians were still
alive. Although Magellan did not actually
complete the first circumnavigation, his
skill and massive, if ruthless, determination
made that achievement possible. He had
crossed the Pacific from east to west and
discovered the vast size of that ocean.

Bruce B. Solnick

Bibliography: Cameron, Ian, Magellan and the
First Circumnavigation of the World (1973);
Nowell, Charles E., ed., Magellan's Voyage
around the World: Three Contemporary Accounts
(1962); Parr, Charles McKew, Ferdinand
Magellan, Circumnavigator (1964) and So Noble
a Captain: The Life and Times of Ferdinand
Magellan (1953; repr. 1975); Pigafetta,
Antonio, Magellan's Voyage: A Narrative
Account of the First Circumnavigation, 2
vols., trans. and ed. by R. A. Skelton
(1969); Roditi, Edouard, Magellan of the
Pacific (1972). Picture Caption[s] Ferdinand
Magellan (c.1480-1521), a Portuguese
navigator, was the leader of the first
expedition to circumnavigate the globe.
Magellan, depicted here in a contemporary
woodcut illustration, was killed in the
Philippines before his voyage was completed.

(The Bettmann Archive)

For booking & info on expeditions or flights to
Antarctica, South Georgia, Cape Horn, and Tierra Del Fuego"
& Free Newsletter on these, please contact:

For your FREE monthly newsletter, The Patagonian Newsletter Monthly ,
with information (Email only) on Patagonia, Tierra Del Fuego, Antarctica, Cape Horn
and South Georgia, send mailto:sailing@victory-cruises.com
and write "subscribe" ,

Comments: Wonderful newsletter! Thanks so much.

Back to Fitzroy's Charts

Back to Tour of
Tierra Del Fuego