Celebrating the start of spring with a drive to Noordhoek via Chapman’s Peak

After some cold and wet days at the end of August, the Weather Gods pulled aside the curtains of heavy clouds, and allowed the sun to shine onto the earth. In grateful acknowledgement that this coincided with a weekend and the first day of September, we decided to celebrate someone-special’s birthday with a drive along the Atlantic coastline of the Cape Peninsula, towards Noordhoek.

Looking back towards Hout Bay with the Sentinel standing guard at the water’s edge

We picked up Mom, and headed south via Kloof Nek, the rounded bump of Lion’s Head on our right, and the jagged vertical cliffs of Table Mountain on our left. Following the curves of the road through the wind-swept suburb of Camps Bay, with its spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean, we soon reached the water’s edge, and the start of the coastal drive, known as Victoria Road.

A photo taken from the slopes of the Constantiaberg at Silvermine, clearly showing the sweep of the Hout Bay shoreline, and some of the many curves of Chapman’s Peak Drive below us, hugging the foot of the mountain

Gravel parking areas invite drivers to stop, and to marvel at the views of the wild wind-swept ocean, as it crashes against the granite boulders on the shore. This very popular road hugs the shore at the foot of the Twelve Apostles mountain range all the way to Llandudno, an isolated suburb of Cape Town that is tucked into a steep-sided cove beneath Little Lion’s Head. Llandudno is named after a North Wales seaside resort of the same name, which means ‘Parish of St Tudno’ in the Welsh language. (You can read more about the history of this delightful place here.) It is a popular surfing spot, though the sea can be very treacherous here and you need to be a strong swimmer.

A photo taken a bit higher up the Constantiaberg – you can see the road below, as it skirts the lower slopes of Chapman’s Peak

We continued onwards through Hout Bay, passing the turn-off to the Suikerbossie Restaurant, which had been our original destination. Located on the higher slopes above Hout Bay, with a view that is to die for, the Suikerbossie has become a highly fashionable venue for weddings and other lavish parties. I thus wasn’t surprised when I was informed on the phone that they are fully booked out, every Saturday, until April next year. So, phone first, before you drive out all the way in the hope of a soothing pot of tea and a plate of scones with jam and cream.

Up ahead, you can see the portal canopy and the half-tunnel

On the far (southern) side of Hout Bay is the start of Chapman’s Peak Drive, which must surely rank among the most spectacular seaside drives in the world. Fondly known as “Chappies”, it is the coastal link between Hout Bay and its slightly more rural counterpart Noordhoek to the south. Although the road is only about 9km long, it has 114 curves, so this is not the road to take if you are in a hurry.

(Above, I have inserted two photos of Chapman’s Peak from ‘higher up’ the Constantiaberg mountain – they were taken during a hike up the Constantiaberg, which I wrote about here.)

Some of the numerous catch-fences, made of high tensile wires and anchored with steel ropes, can be seen above the road

It is also not the road to travel if you suffer from vertigo, because there is a sheer drop down to the ocean on the one side, while the almost perpendicular cliffs of Chapman’s Peak tower above the road on the other. It’s enough to make you feel extremely small and vulnerable. You can stop at designated parking areas and viewing sites, and gaze in speechless awe at this miracle of roadbuilding.

If you are curious to find out more about the history and engineering involved in carving out this road and making it safe for the demands of modern traffic, click those links.

Ellie’s Deli in the Noordhoek Garden Emporium is such a lovely, cosy place

In recent years, to recoup the costs of building, upgrading and maintaining it, Chappies has become a toll road – much to the dismay of locals and residents who regularly commute between Hout Bay and Noordhok. The road is often closed when it has been raining, as there is always a risk that stones and boulders will come tumbling down from the cliffs above, so it is a good idea, particularly in winter, to check beforehand if the road is open.

Having safely reached Noordhoek, we made our way to the Noordhoek Garden Emporium, where we had a delicious late-second-breakfast/very-early-lunch at the quaint little Ellie’s Deli, before returning home, suitably fortified for the rest of the day.

Enjoy the slideshow!

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7 thoughts on “Celebrating the start of spring with a drive to Noordhoek via Chapman’s Peak

  1. I probably would suffer vertigo–but the pot of tea and plate of scones with jam and cream (cream! imagine!) at the end might make the trip happen. Lovely views. It’s always so interesting to look at your South African world.

    • I know what you mean – I also somehow remember it being safer to drive along Chappies when I was little, though that doesn’t make sense, right? After all, they’ve put in far more protective measures to catch all those boulders that can come tumbling down onto the road. I always preferred driving *southwards* – when you drive *north*, you’re closer to the edge, which I didn’t like so much.

  2. Pingback: Breathtaking Chapman’s Peak Drive from Noordhoek to Hout Bay | The Fantastical Voyages of Flat Kathy

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