I’m a road trip person. I think it’s the best way to explore the world. The ultimate feeling of freedom. But there are road trips and there are road trips. And then there is the Chapman’s Peak Drive. So turn up the music, wind down your window and get ready for a journey to the end of the world and back again.
The Chapman’s Peak Drive is said to be one of the most scenic roads in the world. I’m not a fan of such black-and-white statements. But scenic it is. Starting in Hout Bay, just south of Cape Town, it stretches to a mountain called Chapman’s Peak, from where it got its name. The drive takes you on a cliff hanging zig-zagging journey and lands your entourage at the top almost six hundred meter above the sea.
The nine-thousand-meter-long-drive transforms your car to an energetic roller coaster cart on a winding red rock road. Sounds thrilling? It is.
The flat plateau at the top surrounds itself by a volcano shaped mountain skyline. The bright light makes your eyes ache as the ocean throw away a spectrum of blue colours. The waves swirl like an angry steam machine when they hit against the rocks and you suddenly feel small so small you just want to…that’s when I met Eddie.
He stood in the shadow at the road side view point. As a Cape Town native he grew up in the aftermath of the apartheid. He had seen the panorama view at Chapman’s Peak many times. “You notice something new every time”, he said. “Look for whales and dolphins, they often swim by just below us. It’s an incredible sight”.
The Chapman’s Peak Drive is just the start of a much longer route which takes you all the way to Cape Point and the well-known Cape of Good Hope. It’s the most south-western point of the African continent (often mistaken for Cape Agulhas which is the most southern point). It was here the Portuguese explorers rounded the unknown African land for the first time and established a trading route with the far East.
It’s about as far away you can travel on the Eastern Hemisphere. It’s the end of the world, the next land being the Antarctic.
Driving the Cape Peninsula is so much more than just “driving”. It’s a wildness. Misty valleys and red soil. Ostrich hiding in bushes and hungry baboons trying to snatch your picnic lunch. It’s like a mini safari. Make your way back on the eastern side along False Bay and stay for lunch in Simon’s Town. Drop by at Boulders Beach and take a swim with wild African penguins. No, I’m not kidding.
When the sun is about to set and you are tired of driving, head to Camps Bay. It’s where land meets water in an eclectic fusion of sandstone mountains, white houses, lush palm trees, and fine-grained sand. The Venice Beach of Cape Town. An oasis where you can walk around at night with no worries.
Go for a drink at the beach road cosmopolitan-lounge-styled bars overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. It’s the number one spot for celebrities, Ocean Eleven-casino-robbers and jet sets with over-sized sunglasses. It’s also a good place to enjoy the sun-downer. So join the club, get some tapas and revisit your impressions from the day. It will be a lot to digest.
All images © 2019 Erik Ekberger.
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