Chapman’s Peak Drive or “Chappies”
Over years, the incredibly scenic Chapmans Peak drive has become a top tourist attraction on every tourists list of day trips when visiting Cape Town. More than just a road linking Hout Bay with Noordhoek, Chapmans Peak Drive offers lookout points, picnic spots and views that are world renowned.
Chapman’s Peak, affectionately known as “Chappies” by the local cyclists doing the annual Cape Argus Cycle Race and the Two Oceans Marathon, was discovered in 1607 by John Chapman. Chapman was just a regular skipper on an English Ship, but his name has stayed with us.
The curvy, windy road along the cliffs edge, just meters from the ocean, from Hout Bay to Noordhoek was opened in 1922 after the first administrator of the Cape Province, Sir de Waal, made it his personal vendetta in 1915 to ensure the completion of Chapman’s Peak Drive.
The 9km route with its rocky coastline has an estimated 114 curves and a drop into the ocean of hundreds of meters in places. At the very peak, which is the southerly extension of Constantiaberg, the drop is measured to be 593 meters. Spread across the mountainside is the beautiful Fynbos Floral Kingdoms; the Peninsula Sandstone Fynbos and the Cape Granite Fynbos which are both unique to this area.
During whale season (starting mid August through to mid September), the lookout points along Chapman’s Peak Drive can be some of the best places to watch the whales as they do their annual migration. In summertime, the picnic areas along the mountainside become very popular for day trippers, hikers and Chapmans Peak drive is of course a real winner amongst avid photographers.
The return journey is best embraced at sunset when the sun slowly sinks into the ocean with sun-downers in hand as dawn turns into night.
Chapman’s Peak Drive is controlled by a tollgate which costs approximately R33 per light vehicle. Prior to 2009, the road was regularly closed due to the building and maintaining of catch fences which had to be established to stop rock fall and debris falling onto the road. One can now safely say that Chapmans Peak Drive is regularly enjoyed by cyclists, hikers and photographers and especially popular at sunset with a blanket and a bottle of Bordeaux while nestling into the neck of a loved one marveling at the ocean views from the famous Chapman’s Peak Drive.
Content: Ed Beukes