Cape Town, a day trip at the Cape Peninsula
During a trip to Cape Town, don’t miss the Cape Peninsula tour, where you can see the terrific sceneries of this famous area, from the pristine beaches and wonderful landscapes to the epic Cape of Good Hope, often mistaken for the southernmost tip of the African continent, and the spectacular sight of Cape Point, where the oceans meet.
Our itinerary through the Cape
After leaving Cape Town around 8.30 in the morning, we pass by Clifton beach, a popular place among Capetonians, especially in summer, and located right behind Lions Head. The beaches in Clifton, divided into 4 coves, have beautiful white sand and clear blue sea and are bordered by rocky boulders.
Our first stop is the scenic Camps Bay, situated along the Atlantic Seaboard, with the majestic Twelve Apostles mountain range as a backdrop. It is one of the most renowned suburbs of Cape Town, with plenty of hotels, restaurants, shops and expensive houses. Its beach, awarded Blue Flag status since 2008, offers white sand and clear water that makes it highly popular with locals and visitors alike. It is early morning, and the sky is still a little foggy; anyways, we have a nice walk along the seashore, breathing a cold marine breeze, while many people are running, doing aerobic exercises or simply strolling with a dog.
Leaving Camps Bay, just 20 km away, we get the small fishing village of Hout Bay. It is often jokingly referred to as the ‘’Republic of Hout Bay’’ by Cape Town locals and has the sense of being an entirely separate town. We walk along the Marine wharf, where the landscape is stunning. On the left side, the long white beach still surrounded by a slight haze; on our right side, hundred sailing boats and colourful fishing boats reflected their shape in the sea with a background of green hills plenty of houses. Walking here is also interesting, and we can talk with the local fishermen, busy cleaning the decks or fixing the nets. Hout Bay is also home to a Cape Fur Seals colony that inhabit Seal Island (Duiker Island), and it’s very easy to spot them close to the pier trying to grab small baits left over after a late night deep sea fishing. Today we are lucky. We can spot several seals, one of them just a few meters from the seashore, “posing for us” and showing her beauty. If you like having a boat ride to Duiker Island, go to Harbor Road, where you can find Drumbeat Charters and book your 40 minutes cruise.
Going on with our trip, it’s the moment of driving along Chapman’s Peak road, truly one of the most scenic and breathtaking roads one can travel and should definitely not be missed. Chapmans Peak is named after John Chapman, the first mate of an English ship that was becalmed near Hout Bay in 1606, searching provisions. Construction started in 1915, and it took 7 years to complete, opening to traffic in May 1922. Since the road goes along a high cliff, it has been closed and declared unsafe several times. In the last years, measures have been taken to contain the loose rock and soil on the mountainside include concrete cladding of the mountainside, catch nets and a half-tunnel excavation until October 2009. Since then, it closes temporary for routine maintenance and during dangerous weather conditions. After the toll gate (car fee 45 rands), there are some scenic viewpoints where you can look at the ”fairy” Hout Bay.
Passing by Noordhoek, we drive along the M65, then on the M4 until we get the Cape of Good Hope entry (145 rands per person). The first stop is the famous Cape of Good Hope, the most South-Western point of Africa, which functioned as a beacon for sailors for years and is still widely referred to as “The Cape” by seafarers. Bartholomeu Dias, the Portuguese seafarer, was the first to sail around the Cape in 1488. On his return, during a strong storm, Dias stopped at the southwestern tip of South Africa and named it Cape of Storms. King John of Portugal later gave it the name Cabo da Boa Esperança or Cape of Good Hope. After taking the ‘’ritual‘’ picture behind the Cape of Good Hope sign fighting with dozens of tourists, we have a 40 minutes hike going up the hill on the left side of the sign.
Once got the top, the ocean view is breathtaking and as far as the eye can see. If you like, you can continue your hike (1.30 hours, around 2.5 km) along a path leading you to the car park of Cape Point, passing by the cliff above Dias Beach (here you can take a detour via the wooden staircase to the beach and back up to the scenic route).
Once at the car park of Cape Point, we start our walk uphill (2 km return) to the new Lighthouse surrounded by lush vegetation, baboons and a beautiful view on the coast. Cape Point and the spectacular nature reserve in this area are among the most famous landmarks in Cape Town. Situated on the very tip of the peninsula, with the Indian Ocean on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other, the area spans across landscapes such as rugged cliffs, lush fynbos and vast open spaces. There is also a short path down to the cliff where you can see the high cliff, the old lighthouse and the new lighthouse from the bottom. If you are a bit lazy, you can take the Flying Dutchman funicular to get the top. Completed the visit, you can have a rest at the restaurant or fast food close to the car park and buy some gifts in the souvenir shops.
If you like walking and enjoying the lush nature, there are several hiking trails. Cape Point was once a beacon of danger for sailors passing by the African coastline. This is testified to by the shipwrecks that remain behind and that you can still spot. Three routes start and end at Olifantsbos, which vary in length, so you can choose between them depending on how much time you have and how energetic you’re feeling. The yellow trail markers will take you from the parking area lot at Olifantsbos down to the sea. The Thomas T Tucker trail is the shortest and most accessible. It’s 3 km long and takes around 1.30 hours.
Our last stop is in Simon’s Town with its charming coastal town atmosphere and vibrant history. Here you can find a thriving harbour, a toy museum, a navy museum and plenty of other sights. It’s also famous for the nearby Boulders Beach (70 rands entry fee), one of the most visited beaches of Africa and the only place in the world (with Betty’s Bay) where you get close to a big colony of African Penguins.
Here, we have a nice stroll on the boardwalks with a great view of the coast, spotting penguins and their chicks through the dunes and vegetation until we reach the beach. If you have time, you can also stop in Muizenberg to have a walk along St James beach with its colourful changing rooms and then at Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, a centre for the preservation of the region’s unique flora. The cool day around the peninsula is gone; it’s the moment to go back to Cape Town, keeping in our eyes the breathtaking views and landscapes of one of the most amazing places of South Africa!
Need to Know
Getting there: the best way is to rent a car and choose the time you’d like to spend around the Peninsula. Anyways, you can also join one of the several daily tours with a local tour operator (have a look at Waterfront too, there’re some stands for daily trips). Even the ‘‘sightseeing bus‘‘ has a daily tour around the Cape.
We rented our car through Tripadivisor.com. Click here to find out the prices for a rental car.