Covid-19 and its associated lockdowns kept us all indoors for most of last year, and so excursions were few and far between. Cabin fever certainly became a thing, and to stave if off, one Saturday morning in July saw us all hop into the car and tackle the long drive to Simon’s Town and beyond, with the aim of taking in the views that come with a trip along the legendary Chapman’s Peak Drive.
Stretching between Noordhoek and Hout Bay, Chapman’s Peak is the name of the mountain on the western side of the Cape Peninsula, taking its name from John Chapman, the pilot of an English ship that was becalmed in Hout Bay in 1607, and who had been sent ashore to find provisions on an expedition recorded as Chapman’s Chaunce. Chapman’s Peak Drive itself was hacked out of the face of the mountain between 1915 and 1922, and at the time was regarded as a major feat of engineering. Of course, the issue of the numerous (but expected) rockfalls along the road came to a head in the 1990s after it caused a motorist’s death (and subsequent lawsuit), and many subsequent bouts of re-engineering has since taken place to try and make the route safer for visitors. As such the road reopened in 2005 as a toll road (to fund these constant fixes), and to this day remains one of Cape Town’s most famous drives.
The scenery is of course spectacular. With a base of granite, covered in layers of sedimentary rock and sandstone fynbos, the near vertical mountain faces rise up to the one side of you while to the other you are rewarded with the deep blue hues of the Atlantic Ocean, and further on the stiller waters of the ever picturesque Hout Bay.
Passing by energetic (and clearly not risk averse) cyclists and through the odd stone and concrete overhangs, you are eventually afforded a stop at the main lookout point that provides an incredible vantage point across from Hout Bay, with plenty of additional stone steps waiting to be clambered up by those with the energy to get yet another view of this gorgeous landscape.
Chapman’s Peak Drive is an incredible example of the old mixed in with the new mountain pass engineering, and with those incredible classic views on offer, an absolute must do for any visitor to the Cape – plus on this particular day, the perfect way to break out of our Covid-19 cabin fever funk!
(Handy tip: Toll road or not, it also just so happens to be by far the quickest way to get to Hout Bay and onto Cape Town itself if you are coming in via the so called Deep South of Noordhoek, Sun Valley or Kommetjie areas.)