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The World’s Most Scenic Road Trip – Cape Town, South Africa

cape town chapmans peak

Cape Point & Peninsula Tour

Cape Town’s coastline was immortalized in the 1800’s by dashing adventurers Bartolomeu Dias and Vaso de Gama as the turning point of the Far East trade route, where the journey changed from southward to eastward. The waves are rocky, the current strong and the foggy scenery overwhelmingly wild and beautiful.

While I don’t recommend following the shipping route (the number of shipwrecks gave rise to the Legend of the Flying Dutchman, after all), driving along the coastline is one of the world’s most beautiful road trips and a highlight of any visit to Cape Town. Here’s my guide to see the most of the coast in a day trip from Cape Town, South Africa – stopping at the following major points: Chapman’s Peak Drive, the Cape of Good Hope, Cape Point and Boulder Beach.

chapmans peak

1) CHAPMAN’S PEAK DRIVE

Leave your hotel room early and make your way to majestic “Chappies”, a 9km winding drive beloved by locals for its awe inspiring views over the waves. Chapman’s Peak Drive takes you through the best of downtown Cape, from beautiful Hout Bay to Noordhoek Beach, before connecting you with the Southern Peninsula (our next stop).

Chapman’s Peak road was built right into the cliffs, lending it that magical “on the edge” feeling of vertigo as you gaze down at the turquoise blue Atlantic waves below. Built from sandblasting into the mountainside, rock slides were a constant source of concern until a massive reconstruction project was undertaken just a couple years ago. Since re-opening, a new toll station helps to maintain conservation efforts and pay for the boulder engineering project – currently R40 for sedan vehicles (Summer 2015). The exhilarating serpentine route has over 114 curves, with plenty of road stops along the way for pullovers and and panoramic shots to be taken of beautiful Hout Bay.

You’ll also find many cyclists and runners along the drive, all taking advantage of the views to spur their workouts. If you’re lucky to be in Cape Town between July and November, look out for some Southern Right whales.

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2) TABLE MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Continue southward onto M65, following signs to Table Mountain National Park, a Natural World Heritage Site home to both Cape Point and the Cape of Good Hope. Cape Point is referred to as the place where the two oceans (Indian and Atlantic) meet. Park the car and walk along the cliff walls for an incredible view over the coastline. If you have time, hike or take the funicular up to the new lighthouse, erected to guide ships past the treacherous cape.

Continue onwards to the Cape of Good Hope and see if you can spot some wild ostrich and baboons on the beaches! (they’re not to be fed though, as they’re quite wild and dangerous). The Cape of Good Hope is a misty coast where the waves break loudly against the rocks. The site of many shipwrecks (and in particular, the Flying Dutchman), take a photo with the Cape of Good Hope sign to prove you’ve made it to the southwestern most tip of Africa!

south africa cape town travel guide boulder beach penguin sanctuary sher she goes shershegoes.com (2)

3) BOULDERS BEACH & THE AFRICAN PENGUIN

Head back to Cape Town on the opposite coast via Falk’s Bay for a visit to Simon’s Town and a stop at Boulders Beach. Simon’s Town is a seaside village home to South Africa’s Naval base, with many quaint Victoria homes.

Make sure to stop by Boulders Beach for a visit to the African Penguin sanctuary as well. For a small fee you can see the adorable Jackass penguin colony, walk above their nesting boxes and get close to the penguins right on their beach.

Return to Cape Town by driving through the pretty suburban towns of Fish Hoek and Muizenberg. Fish Hoek is a seashore community known for its prime whale watching while Muizenberg is much beloved by the surfing community for its waves and colorful changing huts.

 

In case you’re hungry: Two notable lunch spots along the route: The Food Barn in Noordhoek and seafood at the Harbour House in Kalk Bay. Both are great options.

The entire trip, with stops for photos and lunch, is approximately 6-8 hours. For ideas on other things to do in South Africa check out this list of 50 unique suggestions!

Read more: The Ultimate Cape Town Beach Guide

 

Are you planning to rent a car in Cape Town?  

 

 

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The World’s Most Scenic Road Trip: Cape Town, South Africa

The Most Adorable Way to Spend an Afternoon: Penguins at Boulder Beach

 

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CatarinaDecember 11, 2015 - 1:51 pm

So incredible, want to go there!!!
http://www.silkypearl.com/

SherDecember 14, 2015 - 9:39 am

Yes!! Cape Town is so beautiful, I hope you get a chance to visit soon Catarina

TIFFDecember 14, 2015 - 10:18 am

WOW, breathtaking beautiful!!
The drive and the most southern point of the African continent.
It’s always amaze to see what the world await us to see
x Tiff
http://tiffgoesto.com/

AngelaMarch 1, 2016 - 9:04 pm

Wow, wow and wow! Cannot wait to hit the open road and check out this unbelievable scenic drive.

Dan VinebergMarch 2, 2016 - 3:09 pm

Alright, I was skeptical to your claim of most scenic drive in the world… but with those photos… I think you’ve convinced me! :D

SherMarch 2, 2016 - 7:33 pm

Ok I may exaggerate a bit IRL Dan… but Cape Town is worth the drive! :) I promise

Vicki | MakeTimeToSeeTheWorldMarch 2, 2016 - 9:23 pm

I’m heading to South Africa later this year and I am so excited to see the Cape Town Penguins! I’m also driving from Cape Town to Jo’Burg so hopefully I’ll see some of the amazing scenery from your photographs along the way!

SherMarch 3, 2016 - 3:08 pm

Awesome, have a great time Vicki! Just to clarify, the penguins straight south of Cape Town, so you’d prob go east from Jo’Burg to Cape Town, then down south to the peninsula. The penguins are adorable, you’re going to love it!

Dom & Claire Flashpacking DuoMarch 4, 2016 - 2:28 pm

This drive looks and sounds amazing. If we ever find ourselves in South Africa this is something we will definitely do. Thanks for sharing.

Stacey ValleMarch 7, 2016 - 4:48 am

How beautiful! I would love to have a drive through that! The penguins! I’d be so happy to see them! haha, seem such a wonderful and relaxing experience. I did one on Pacific Coast Highway in California recently. Not all the way, but up from LA to Monterey. Definitely beautiful too!

Jesper, The Biveros EffectMarch 18, 2016 - 9:19 am

Amazing photos, must be really nice destinations :)

SherMarch 20, 2016 - 12:06 pm

Thanks Jesper!

Tanasia @ Green Global TravelMarch 31, 2016 - 6:27 pm

Had no idea there were penguins in Africa! Will definitely have to add Capetown to our list of places to visit.

SherMarch 31, 2016 - 7:27 pm

There are African penguins! They’re smaller than the antarctic ones and super cute! they were honking and splashing in the waves which was so fun to watch.

[…] visited Cape Town in September to coincide with a safari visit but if you come in October you’ll be rewarded with […]

alishaSeptember 3, 2016 - 11:16 pm

wow!!
this is so amazing :)
I am going here in a week !

Alisha

saffrononrose.com

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