Chapman’s Peak Drive: The Most Beautiful Pass In The World

Chapman’s Peak Drive: The Most Beautiful Pass In The World

When it comes to coastal roads, Chappies should be on everyone’s must-do list.

Chapman’s Peak Drive has always grabbed headlines and drawn crowds for its unique and breathtaking topography. Stretching from Hout Bay to Noordhoek, the mountain pass is flanked by an impenetrable wall of rock on one side and a near-vertical cliff on the other that plunges 100 metres to the Atlantic Ocean.

Viewpoints along the way offer spellbinding views of Sentinel Peak, the vibrant village and fishing harbour of Hout Bay, endless seascapes and, at the other end, the awesome stretch of Noordhoek’s dazzling white-sand beach.

Chapman's Peak Western Cape
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History

Chapman's Peak History
Flickr

Chapman’s Peak is named after John Chapman (the captain’s mate of an English ship that sailed into what is now Hout Bay in 1607), who was sent ashore to find provisions. He recorded the bay as Chapman’s Chaunce, little knowing it would one day be the location of one of the world’s most famous roads!

It truly is a marvel of engineering, having been carved out of the mountain face by convict labourers over the course of seven years – a dream project to link Hout Bay with Noordhoek initiated by Sir Nicolas Fredrick de Waal (the Cape’s first administrator), fresh off the success of his De Waal Drive linking the city with the southern suburbs.

Highlights

Chapman's Peak Sunset
Nox Rentals

Chapman’s Peak Drive forms part of two of the country’s biggest mass-participation sports events: the Cape Town Cycle Tour and the Two Oceans Marathon. Despite its beauty, the road is a precarious one, with 114 sharp bends.

There are numerous viewpoints along the pass, including three main picnic areas, all of which make perfect pitstops for scenic selfies, a chilled snack, romantic alfresco feasts and epic sundowners. Each picnic area is equipped with tables and seating, and offers spectacular views of the Atlantic Ocean stretching out below and to the horizon.

Chapman's Peak Cycling
Wallup.net

Those looking to stretch their legs a bit can enjoy a hike on the fynbos-covered mountainside to the top of Chapman’s Peak (593m). The three-hour sojourn starts from the parking area at the Day Pass Turnaround Point (look for the green sign) and heads uphill, past a stream bed and over rock steps through a ravine, before reaching the top. The reward: 360-degree views of the Peninsula, from Fish Hoek and Cape Point to Noordhoek to Hout Bay.

Chapman's Peak Hotel Restaurant

If you’re looking for a refuel after your excursion, Chapman’s Peak Hotel is an established landmark near the start of the pass just outside Hout Bay, open daily for laidback lunches with sweeping views of the bay, harbour and Sentinel peak. The fried calamari served piping hot in a pan is a favourite, but there are loads of other fish and seafood dishes to choose from.

Ensuring safety

Since its opening on 6 May 1922, it has undergone several phases of redevelopment in order to improve efficiency and safety (rock falls and landslides have caused several incidents in the past), and in 2004 it received a civil-engineering excellence award for rock-fall protection.

To ensure ongoing safety, it has been operated as a toll road since 2003. However, it is possible to obtain a day pass (or picnic voucher) for free if you do not want to drive all the way to Noordhoek, but rather just stop and enjoy the views. The pass allows access for the first 2.7km, up to the Day Pass Turnaround Point. The pass is valid from 6am – 8pm in summer and 7am – 6.30pm in winter.

Iconic ads

And who can forget the big-budget TV ads in the 1990s filmed on Chapman’s Peak Drive? They were epic! In a nutshell, Mercedes shot a commercial (based on a true story) of a driver plunging 100 metres over the cliff and surviving, which was soon followed by a BMW ad showing their driver negotiating the same stretch of road – safely – with the tagline: “BMW beats the bends” (the Benz, get it?). The latter was removed immediately due to legalities of competitive advertising, but it created a national talking point and is still remembered to this day.

No matter the occasion, Chappies is one of those places that makes for good memories.

Please note Chapman’s Peak Drive may be closed during severe weather, or as a result of road maintenance. Contact the customer service line (021 791 8220) to check the current status.

Toll-road fees Light-motor vehicles: R61
Motorcycles: R40
Day pass (no through route): Free

Address Chapmans Peak Drive, between Hout Bay and Noordhoek, Cape Town.

Contact 021 712 0527, tablem@sanparks.org (Table Mountain National Park)
021 791 8220, info@chapmanspeakdrive.co.za (Chapman’s Peak Drive Toll Plaza)
TMNP emergency numbers: 086 110 6417 or 021 480 7700

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Disclaimer:

The Inside Guide has made every effort to ensure that the information in this post was correct at the time of publication. However, we do not assume any liability caused by errors, such as price, cost, time, and location.

Time of publication: 26 July 2023

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