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Chapman’s Peak Drive in Cape Town, which takes motorists on a 9km winding route from Hout Bay to Noordhoek, is widely regarded as one of the most scenic stretches of road anywhere in the world. Take a drive and see what all the fuss is about.
Chapman’s Peak Drive is all about the scenery. Overlooking Noordhoek and Hout Bay, this rocky coastal roadway offers numerous points at which motorists can safely pull over and savour a panoramic view across the deep-blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the shapely shoreline that meets it.
FFrom stunning vantage points, some of which are up to 593m above sea level, it is not uncommon to see whales and dolphins frolicking in the ocean below, and baboon troops curiously observing passing tourists. This is a perfect place from which to take stunning photographs of the Cape – just don’t feed the baboons.
Fondly known as ‘Chappies’ to Cape Town residents, Chapman’s Peak Drive also forms part of the annual routes for the Cape Argus Cycle Tour and the Two Oceans Marathon.
Although the road was closed intermittently for a decade or so due to safety concerns related to rock falls, a thorough civil engineering revamp saw the road reopen in late 2009. Chapman’s Peak Drive will now only be closed as a precaution in the event of severe wind or rain.
According to a plaque along the route, construction of Chappies began in 1915 and, after several years of work, it was officially opened by the governor-general of what was then the Union of South Africa, Prince Arthur of Connaught and Strathearn.
Chapman’s Peak Drive was a prominent location for vehicle television commercials in the 1990s, most notably BMW’s acclaimed ‘Beat the Bends’ campaign, filmed in response to a commercial by competitor Mercedes-Benz.
There are 114 curves along Chapman’s Peak Drive, making it necessary for motorists to drive slowly and cautiously – all the better to gaze out at the spectacular vistas!
Those who wish to save themselves the toll fee might prefer to hike up Chapman’s Peak, along a path marked with clear signage. Hikers are advised to take lots of water, as there are no taps along the route or at the top.
TTravel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Chapman’s Peak Drive
Tel: +27 (0)21 791 8222
How to get here
Chapman’s Peak Drive is 25km from the Cape Town city centre and is accessible from Hout Bay and Noordhoek.
Best time to visit
Chapman’s Peak Drive is open every day of the year except when severe weather conditions persist – so the wet, windy season from May to September is not recommended.
You can self-drive if you’ve hired a car, hire a bicycle if you’re feeling fit, or take it easy on one of the city’s hop-on, hop-off sightseeing bus tours, which include Chapman’s Peak Drive. Hiking up the peak is also an option.
Things to do in the area
Table Mountain National Park is a wonderful walking spot where stunning fynbos has led to the creation of a biodiversity hotspot.
Tours to do
Several local stables offer horse riding tours on Noordhoek Beach and the surrounding area. The city’s hop-on, hop-off sightseeing buses also cover the entire city bowl and peninsula.
What will it cost?
As of 1 July 2018, the toll fee on Chapman’s Peak drive for light motor vehicles was R47.00. Check the website for current toll fees.
Length of stay
Driving around Chapman’s Peak, even with stops to take in the scenery, will take less than an hour. It’s a great route between the fishing-village attractions of Hout Bay and the beaches of Noordhoek. If you’re hiking up the peak, set aside at least half a day.
What to pack
A good pair of binoculars will enhance your view, while a camera is simply essential. If you decide to hike, take plenty of water and don’t forget the hat and sunscreen.
Where to stay
There is no shortage of accommodation in Cape Town, ranging in price from backpacker lodges to luxury hotels. You might want to try the Tintswalo Atlantic, set to re-open in October 2019 – an exquisite boutique hotel that takes full advantage of its stunning sea view at the very foot of Chapman’s Peak.
What to eat
Hout Bay is known for its excellent seafood restaurants. Enjoy some old-fashioned fish and chips at the Hout Bay harbour.
Over Easter, the world’s most scenic ultra-marathon, the Two Oceans, takes place in Cape Town, including a section along Chapman’s Peak Drive.