T he road hugs the cliff, meandering along the edge of the Table Mountain range all the way to Cape of Good Hope, the southwesternmost tip of Africa. On one side, the steep slopes plunge dramatically into the Atlantic Ocean; and on the other, needle-sharp peaks soar into the sky. In my years as an adventure travel blogger this scenic drive along the Cape Peninsula is one of my favorite routes in the world. There are just such wild and raw landscapes surrounding us. Cape Town – for all of its vibrant urban groove and sophisticated metropolis reputation – is the starting point of the route and makes for an excellent base to do a daytrip around the Cape Peninsula.
On our recent trip to Cape Town, we made it a point to experience the Cape Peninsula loop again, with the folks from Escape to the Cape. Starting out from Muizenberg, our first stop was Kalk Bay, a bohemian village littered with a flurry of antique shops, flea markets and indie boutiques. We then continued down to Simon’s Town, the third oldest town in South Africa, having been founded right after the settlements of Cape Town and Stellenbosch.
While it’s a charming fishermen’s village, the town is better known for the African Penguin colony that inhabit the nearby Boulders Beach. A wooden boardwalk weaves through the penguin’s habitat, allowing intimate encounters with the cute little animals. Over 3,000 penguins live in the area, many of them staying here permanently due to the cold water and other favorable living conditions. We watched some of them lounging around under the sun, others enjoying a dip in the clear waters. The penguins were clearly well protected in their natural habitat, free to roam around the area.
The drive from Simon’s Town to the Cape Point Nature Reserve brought us through plains filled with brown and yellow shrubs and green thorny cacti. According to our guide Shaheed, there are more vegetation varieties here than that in the United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand combined. As we drove through the nature reserve, we spotted a rainbow across the horizon, creating once again an impressive backdrop.
Making a stopover at the Cape of Good Hope, we chanced upon several ostriches, looking startled as we all stood wide-eyed staring at the animal in awe. The Cape of Good Hope is the southwesternmost tip of Africa and naturally, draws in quite a crowd. We had to actually go in line with other tourists for our turn to snap a shot with the sign!
We continued our journey to the Cape Point lighthouse, set dramatically against the crashing ocean. Cliff trails wind around the vegetation and lead to the lighthouse, we took just twenty minutes to hike along the trail, before we were treated to expansive views of the ocean.
Our route back via the Atlantic Seaboard was all the more impressive, as we drove through the town of Scarborough and the gorgeous surfing beach of Noordhoek. From Misty Cliffs, we got an atmospheric view of the sea, with a light mist creating quite a romantic setting.
Our trip culminated at Chapman’s Peak Drive, where we drank in a view of the crescent-shaped bay and spotted sealions and sharks swimming beneath us.
If you ever find yourself in Cape Town, be sure to head out to the peninsula for a day, you might find yourself hooked to it – just as I was.
Disclosure: Our trip was made possible by Cape Town Tourism, but all opinions are our own.