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.
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.
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.
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.
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.)
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.
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!