Cape Peninsula Scenic Drive
There are most probably only a hand full of scenic routes around the world that can hold a candle to the roads that circle the Cape Peninsula to form the Cape Peninsula Scenic Drive. From the winding M3 route through leafy southern suburbs, the vistas of Boyes drive above Muizenberg, the splendour of Chapman’s Peak between Noordhoek and Hout Bay to the last stretch along the Atlantic Seaboard past Llandudno through Campsbay, Seapoint and then full circle back to the City of Cape Town, this is a true “bucket list sightseeing experience”.
Each year around early March, the famous Cape Town Cycle Tour is held roughly along the route described above. You can see the cycle tour map and get more official information on Cape Town Cycle Tour here
Great stop overs along the Cape Peninsula Scenic Drive route include the following:
Cape Point Nature Reserve
See a Antelope, Chacma Baboons, unique fynbos vegetation and dramatic land and seascape vista. A restaurant, curio shops and funicular railway ride to the top of the main Cape Point view platform, ensure a great afternoon’s entertainment. Here is some more great info about Cape Point and the Nature Reserve
Simon’s Town – history, culture, cuisine and collectables
This characterful little town has the charm of a classic British seaside village from the 1800′s with beautiful architecture from that era, witness to the influence of the Empire, after the Royal Navy seized Simon’s Town from the Dutch in 1814. Wikipedia has a great list of Simon’s Town heritage sites
Simon’s Town also has many great antique and art shops, with some great eateries dotted all round. A prominent feature is of course the Naval Base which hosts a unique Submarine tour. Find out more right here
Another unique Simon’s Town attraction is the Warrior Toy Museum which holds a valuable collection of collectable antique and more recent toys for boys and girls, both young and old. See detail here
A prime attraction on the outskirts of Simon’s Town is of course the African Penguin colony of Boulders Beach. The beach forms part of the Table Mountain National Park Marine Protected Area and an entry fee is charged to the beach and penguin colony enclosure. Read more here about this great, “bucket list” experience!
Another charming experience is to take the Metro Rail train to Simon’s Town along the seaside railway line, either starting from Cape Town station, or from any of the coastal stations, like Muizenberg, or Kalk Bay. See the Metro Rail train timetables here (scroll down to “Area South” for Simon’s Town’s PDF download)
A historic steam train trip to Simon’s Town runs twice a month, from Cape Town on Sunday mornings and return in the afternoon. Booking well in advance is advised and you can book via this link
Boyes Drive Scenic Pass and lookout Points
Beautiful scenic lookout stops can be made along this short elevated route above Muizenberg and Kalk Bay. It can get quite crowded at times, especially during the whale season when Southern Right Whales come toe False Bay to Calf and nurse their young between August and December. Whales can be seen breaching, when they launch straight up and almost completely out of the water and then come splashing back down with a thunderous crash – a special treat that never looses its thrill factor.
Kalk Bay – Culture and Cuisine awaits
This quaint little village boasts a great selection of antique Shops, book shops, art galleries and restaurants and is well worth a visit. Check out this great blog for the latest info on the shops, eateries and a whole lot more.
Chapman’s Peak Drive – a highlight of the Cape Peninsula Scenic Drive
Originally built in the early 1900′s and opened for traffic on 6 May 1922, Chapman’s Peak drive allowed the direct Atlantic seaboard side connection of Noordhoek and Houtbay. This pass is definitely a one of the top highlights of the Cape Peninsula Scenic Drive. It also offered a rather exciting drive with most spectacular views of the Atlantic ocean and Hout Bay below. The magnificent pass, which hugs the mountain side with sheer cliffs above and below, along most of its 9 km and 114 curves, can be enjoyed to this day. This is all possible only due to concerted efforts to save the pass from extinction threatened by rock fall hazards and deterioration. Today the upgraded and well maintained pass employs 1.6 km of catch fences, a 150m long half tunnel and various engineering strategies like terrain modeling and various concrete canopies to protect the people and their vehicles below. Rockfall hazards still exist in heavy weather though and the pass is therefore not always open. An affordable toll is levied for passage through “Chappies” as it is affectionately know. Get up to the minute open/closed status, other essential info and more on the history and engineering of Chapmans Peak Drive on this website
Houtbay – much more than just a fishing village
Houtbay is a working fishing village, with the harbour and waterfront development boasting great restaurants, offering seafood and other specialties. It is a popular tourist destination with many B&B’s and holiday facilities. Boat rides to view the seal colonies on nearby Duiker Island are very popular. A great variety of arts and crafts abound and the Hout Bay Harbour Market with its great art, crafts and food stalls, has become a popular weekend attraction.
The World of Birds in Hout bay is well worth a visit. Here one can walk through 100 spacious landscaped aviaries and marvel at over 3000 animals and birds representing over 400 different species. Most of these have been rescued from certain demise. The World of Birds relies on public funding so do go and support them – you will not regret it! Have a look at The World of Birds’ website
Read more interesting facts on Houtbay here
Campsbay & Clifton – world class beaches on the Cape Peninsula Scenic Drive
Lying on the last stretch of the route back to Cape Town and just a few minutes from Bayview House, Campsbay Beach and the four distinct white sandy sections of Clifton are arguably the most renowned beaches in South Africa. The suburb of Campsbay offers great shopping and top restaurants, while the beachfront facilities are world class. Definitely the right spot for walking on the beach, a game of valley ball, or simply shaking out your towel on the white sandy surface and worshipping the sun!
Bayview House is an excellent base from which to embark on your Cape Peninsula Scenic Drive adventure. The location is just beneath Lions head and practically in the shadow of Table Mountain. It overlooks Cape Town City Bowl, the V&A Waterfront and Table Bay with the rest of the Cape Peninsula just waiting to be explored.