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Chapman’s Peak Drive and a South African Sunset

Fifteen kilometres south of Cape Town, there’s a dazzling road, hacked perilously out of the side of a mountain. With sheer rock faces on one side, and the blue waters of the Atlantic Ocean 590 metres below, on the other, the Chapman’s Peak Drive is one of the most breathtaking stretches of road in the world.

Unfortunately, it’s not all just staggering beauty. Falling rocks resulted in four deaths and several serious injuries between 1998 – 2000, leading to the indefinite closure of the road. It was only at the end of 2003, after an intensive design and reconstruction, that Chapman’s Peak Drive was re-opened to the public as a toll road, and tourist destination.

Are we ever glad it did.

Overlooking Noordhoek and Hout Bay, the 9 kilometre drive was truly one of the most magnificent feats of engineering combined with natural beauty we’ve seen in the world. The 114 death-defying curves, bends and loops force you to drive relatively slowly, but it’s probably for the best, since you pretty much spend the entire ride, gawking out the windows of the car.

Drive Chapman’s Peak right before dusk, and you’ll be rewarded with a sensational view of the sun setting over Hout Bay.

Getting to Chapman’s Peak

From Cape Town, take the M6 and drive along the coast via Sea Point, Camps Bay and Llundudno to Hout Bay. Once you reach Hout Bay, continue with the M6 coastal road south. Follow the signs to Chapman’s Peak Drive.

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The toll booth is on the Hout Bay side of the Chapmanโ€™s Peak Drive. Current toll rates are 36 Rand (almost $4)

We thought the drive well worth the toll price. We did it twice! ๐Ÿ˜€

Have you been on any spectacular drives? Share your experience with us in the comments.

27 Comments Post a comment
  1. Bianca #

    I will never forget this drive. I was staying with my lovely Capetonian friend and her family. Her father treated us to this drive. There’s is a sad history behind it, though: dozens of Italian prisoners of war died working on it.

    May 29, 2014
    • It is an unforgettable drive, that’s for sure. I read online that it was built by “convicts,” but there was no mention of the Italian prisoners of war. Of course, I was reading a South African tourism website, so I am not surprised. Unfortunately the history of many countries is filled with these terrible stories…like the Chinese immigrants who died building the railroad in North America…

      May 30, 2014
  2. Looks gorgeous, I really hope to make it out to South Africa next year so will bookmark this!

    May 29, 2014
    • Oh, I really hope you do! It was one of the best places on our trip – the food is to die for, scenery is extraordinary and it wasn’t even that expensive! We stayed in a great place in Bo-Kaap with a view of the coast on one side and Table Mountain on the other for a mere $45. ๐Ÿ™‚

      May 30, 2014
  3. Stunning photos!

    May 29, 2014
  4. Your pictures make me miss being in South Africa again. Such a beautiful country.

    May 29, 2014
    • Really one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I miss it too and can’t wait to visit again.

      May 30, 2014
  5. Beautiful, I hope to see that for myself one day. The most memorable drive (for all the right reasons) that I can recall right now, is a drive from Hรธnefoss to Flรฅm in Norway, through many tunnels and fjords. Simply stunning. That was 22 years ago, but the pictures in my head are still vivid.

    May 29, 2014
    • Oooh, I can only imagine how beautiful a drive through the Norwegian fjords would be! I would love to do that one day too.

      May 30, 2014
  6. Looked well worth the amazing views. I remember a scary drive at break neck speeds through the mountains in Spain with only a sheer cliff face to the right. The little town awaiting us on the other side with great views of mountains and sea was worth it. It was also a place where I had the best strawberries ever! That was worth the drive.
    The Cabot Trail in Nova Scotia, Canada is a twisty long drive. You drive through wilderness of trees and ocean, but you need to keep your eyes peeled on the road, not the view. As a passenger it is super.

    May 30, 2014
    • Sweet strawberries are worth any risk. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I have been to NS, but unfortunately, I don’t think we drove the Cabot Trail. We were based around Halifax and I seem to remember driving through Peggy’s Cove and around there, but the rest is a foggy memory. It was a LONG time ago – maybe 15 years ago. Yikes! I am getting old. ๐Ÿ˜‰

      May 30, 2014
      • The Cabot Trail is out on the island… very beautiful. My parents are both from that area, so many a road trip. I haven’t been back since I was 15… and I am almost afraid to go. I like the memory of how it was.

        May 31, 2014
        • I know how you feel. I used to do the drive from Calgary to Vancouver every summer vacation from university and it’s such a fantastic memory. We’re actually going to go back and do it this summer (it’ll be Agri’s first time), and I’m quite curious about how it’ll compare. Things look so different when you’re 19… ๐Ÿ˜‰

          May 31, 2014
          • Not only have we changed and will see and experience things different, but all the modern changes that have taken place to make it new and improved… sometimes it spoils the journey and the beauty. Since I was a baby we used to drive into Nova Scotia and there was a rest stop with the usual souvienr shops, place to eat and get fuel. In the centre was a large garden. If you timed it right you could catch the bagpiper playing a tune. My parents tell me now there is a modern highway that by-passes this. Part of our excitment as kids was getting out to run around that garden and hoping to catch the bagpipes. Not that we liked the music, but it was a cool memory and we felt special if he was there when we were… it was like our own personal welcome. It will be fun to go with Agri on your adventure since it is his first time.

            June 1, 2014
  7. Gorgeous!! You’re making me miss South Africa something crazy ๐Ÿ™‚ Nice panorama shot thrown in there, btw

    June 1, 2014
    • I’m missing South Africa something crazy too!! One week was definitely not long enough in that place. Heh heh – I should do a post just on panoramas of Agri in different places (I’ve got an awful lot of them). Sigh.

      June 1, 2014
      • You were only there a week?! You managed to see so much! *Sigh. If I could do it over again, I would have taken 2-3 days to hike in the Drakensburg ๐Ÿ™‚

        June 1, 2014
  8. California’s Pacific Coast Highway is the best for me. It’s similar as what you shared here. Your sunset is, for the lack of better word, epic. Germany-Austria’s alps are such breathtaking roadside views as well.

    June 2, 2014
    • I would imagine the Pacific Coast Highway is very similar to Canada’s West Coast…which we hope to get to this summer! ๐Ÿ˜€ There really are so many fantastic drives in the world, aren’t there!?

      June 3, 2014
  9. Thanks for sharing! We’re visiting Cape Town now, and did the Chapman’s Peak drive, but didn’t go for sunset. After seeing your photos, maybe we’ll have to go again! We drove the opposite way through and came up towards Cape Town, ending in Hout Bay and visiting the Bay Harbor Market. Such a lovely drive!

    January 2, 2019

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