Cape Town - Chapmans peak

Chapman's Peak Drive
Hout Bay - Cape Town

Chapmans Peak

Chapman's Peak is the pointed mountain to the centre right of the picture

Chapman's Peak is part of a mountain range on the Atlantic Coastline of the Cape Peninsula. The peak is situated between Noordhoek beach and Hout Bay and forms the eastern arm of the entrance to Hout Bay. He was the mate on a British ship that was sent to Hout Bay to investigate the possibility of building a harbour there.

The peak is 593 metres high and has sheer cliffs dropping almost vertically into the sea. It is along this coastline that Chapman's Peak drive has been built.



Chapmans Peak

Chapman's Peak (right hand peak) taken from Hout Bay beach

The original road was cut out of the sheer rock faces along the stretch of mountain that overlooks the entrance to Hout Bay and Noordhoek beach. Its a really spectacular drive along a very narrow road with stunning views out onto the Atlantic ocean. Chapman's Peak Drive is closed at present due to problems experienced with falling rocks and an unfortunate fatality. The authorities are doing a complete upgrade of the road. The cliffs have been stabilised and many new safety features such as catch fences and concrete roofing over the road have been installed.

new tunnel

The new tunnel on Chapman's Peak

As there is much to see along this stretch of road I will start the drive in Hout Bay and describe it from there.

Statue of Leopard

Statue of Leopard on a rock

Leaving Hout Bay and travelling southwards the first thing you see as you leave the town is a bronze statue of a Leopard sitting looking out over the bay. It is positioned on a large granite rock near the Hout Bay beach. It is the work of an artist named Ivan Mitford -Barberton who lived in Hout Bay and died in 1976.

About 800 metres out of Hout Bay you will come across a block house built of rock on the left hand side of the road. Below it on the seaside of the road you will find the east battery, a group of cannons placed there by the British to protect the harbour. Across the bay on the slopes of the Sentinel is the west battery which was built at the same time as the east one.

The Sentinel is the mountain peak that forms the western arm of Hout Bay and is where the fishing harbour is built. From our position at the eastern battery looking back towards Hout Bay you can see the old ore jetty jutting out from the eastern mountain slopes. It was here that Manganese mined on the upper slopes of Chapman's Peak was loaded onto the ships.

Apparently an ore loader sank a ship at the jetty when he dropped ore right through the bottom of it. Can you imagine what he said when he saw what he had done. Oops!!! I suppose, and then made himself scarce. I am not sure whether the wreck is still there or not.

About 5 kilometres from Hout Bay you reach the lookout point on the drive. The view over Hout Bay is quite spectacular with the surf rolling onto Hout Bay beach in the distance. From this vantage point you get a fantastic view of the Karbonkelberg and the Sentinel on the far side of the bay.

Scared of narrow roads and high cliff faces? It's from the lookout point that the dangerous part of the drive starts. The section of roadway between the lookout point and Noordhoek was cut out of the sheer rock face to make space for the road. Look upwards and see the cliffs towering above you. Some of the bends in the road are so narrow that you begin to wonder if you will ever get your car around them let alone a tourist bus.

In some places the edge of the road hangs out over high cliff faces with sheer drops into the sea far below. Over the years many people have ended their lives by either jumping or driving over these cliffs. The original road was built in 1922 by Sir Frederick de Waal and links Noordhoek to Houtbay and Cape Town.



Noordhoek Beach

As you get closer to Noordhoek on the southern side of this mountain pass you get some spectacular views out over Noordhoek beach. This beach is part of Long Beach which runs all the way to Kommetjie. If you look carefully you should see the wreck of the Kakapo lying about two kilometres down the beach in the sand. It ran aground about a 100 years ago when its Captain mistook Hout Bay for Cape Point. Over the past few years since the road has been closed many participants who take part in the Two Oceans marathon and the Pick 'n Pay cycle tour have been wishing that the route around "Chappies" as they call it will be reopened.

Noordhoek in days of old was a farming community. Today the village has been taken over by artists who have built their homes on the lower slopes of Chapman's Peak and in the fertile valley below. If you have time explore, enjoy the lovely oak trees and farmlands that still make up the greater part of Noordhoek. Why not see Chappies and the rest of the Peninsula the hard way. Compete in either of the two events mentioned above. Whichever way you prefer, you MUST see this spectacular coastline.





Contact Details
Email :  Geoff Fairman    
6 Bothma Street, Monte Vista 7460 South Africa
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Page updated 12.5.2015






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