Chapmans Peak Drive, A Seascape That Belongs in Dreams

Chapmans Peak Drive in South Africa is a little south of Cape Town leads from Hout Bay to Noordhoek along the flanks of mountains that tumble into the restless sea. Above are high crags where only eagles and fixed-line mountaineers dare. Below are inaccessible beaches of the type that belong in dreams. The Chapmans Peak Drive is a great road to take for hire cars because the surface is so good.

Chapmans Peak Drive South Africa:
Chapmans Peak: South African Tourism / CC BY 2.0

The Chapmans Peak Drive Project

Construction of the nine-kilometre-long winding Chapmans Peak Drive route began in 1915 using convict labour wielding picks and shovels. Engineers exploring the cliffs above found them steep, rotten, and unstable, but the administrator would not take no for an answer. The route the engineers chose follows the seam between flat, sedimentary rocks above, and a cape granite base that scientists describe as a ‘geological unconformity’.

Chapmans Peak Drive South Africa: Sensuously Flowing Bends
Sensuously Flowing Bends: Phillip Cowell / CC BY-SA 2.0

Stupendous Views from Chapmans Peak Drive

There are occasional pull-off places where it is possible to stop and gaze in awe at the mighty ocean, and the indigenous fynbos plants that cling perilously to cracks and crevices below. Beware of climbing beyond the safety barriers because the spoil that road builders left is loose and gravelly, and uncertain underfoot.

Chapmans Peak Drive South Africa: Land Meets Sea
Land Meets Sea: Paul Scott / CC BY 2.0

The Splendour of Noordhoek Beach

Almost without warning the road leaves the impressive cliffs behind, as Chapmans Peak Drive snakes its way down open mountainside towards the unspoiled Noordhoek Beach. Protected wetlands behind the strand limit urban sprawl and offer numerous hiking trails through nature. Forget the restaurants and tourist shops. Slangkop Lighthouse at Kommetjie is calling eight kilometres away across the snow white, shifting sands.

Chapmans Peak Drive South Africa: Kommetjie Lighthouse South Africa
Kommetjie Lighthouse: Warren Rohner / CC BY-SA 2.0

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About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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