Chapman's Peak Drive
Hout Bay - Cape Town
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.
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
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 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.
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.
Email : Geoff Fairman
6 Bothma Street, Monte Vista 7460 South Africa
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Page updated 12.5.2015