Saturday, June 14, 2014

Day Two in Cape Town - the Cape Peninsula Drive!

Click here for the previous post in this series: Day One of Six in the Mother City - Cape Town, South Africa.

Our First Full Day in Cape Town! Upon checking the weather forecast it seemed we might have a spot of decent weather, so we had a quick breakfast at home and off we went for the Cape Peninsula Day Tour/Drive! If this route looks rather long, it really isn't. There's only a total of about 150 or so kilometers of driving spread out over the whole day so it's not as tightly packed an itinerary as it might seem.

Six Days In Cape Town Cape Peninsula Drive
The Cape Peninsula Drive

Onwards to our first destination then! Just a note here that Google Maps will (normally) direct you along the coastal road, but you really want to take a slight detour and go along the Muizenberg hills instead:

Six Days In Cape Town Map Overlooking St James Beach
Map of the Hill Route overlooking St. James Beach / Kalk Bay

The hill route isn't particularly windy or high up, and you're rewarded with some nice views over the residential areas below.

Six Days In Cape Town Hill Route Overlooking St James Beach
Hill Route overlooking St. James Beach / Kalk Bay

Six Days In Cape Town Hill Route Overlooking St James Beach
Hill Route overlooking St. James Beach / Kalk Bay

Our first stop proper is at the colourful changing rooms of St. James Beach, for some photo taking and selfies. It being winter, there's perhaps not much appetite among the locals or tourists for dipping in the beach, but we did encounter a Church group having what seemed like a Baptism service!

Six Days In Cape Town St James Beach
St. James Beach Changing Rooms

We then drive a few more minutes down to Kalk Bay. It's a nice quaint little sleepy town with a dozen or so gift shops selling books, curios, art, food, ice cream and - if you're lucky - a flea market on the weekends. Across the street (the "beach" side) there's a little cafe called Kalk Bay Espresso that's set up shop in a 100-year old retired train car - we get seated for some pancakes in a gorgeous apple-brandy sauce, a somewhat unspectacular big breakfast plate, and some coffee to warm the tummies.

Six Days In Cape Town Kalk Bay Espresso in a Train
Brunch in a 100-year old Train Carriage - Kalk Bay Espresso

Stomachs filled up and after having bought a few dozen gifts for friends and family back home, we head over to the African Penguin Colony at Boulder's Beach.

Six Days In Cape Town Boulders Beach Penguin Colony
Boulders Beach Penguin Colony

There are two entrances to the colony - the Southern entrance goes straight to the beach, where if you're lucky (and if it's really early in the morning) you might get some penguins walking around. Otherwise just head for the Northern entrance which is an elevated, fenced wooden walkway across the Colony proper.

Six Days In Cape Town Boulders Beach Penguin Colony
Boulders Beach Penguin Colony

This is an actual breeding colony for the African Penguin - Mom & Dad come here to raise their little baby chicks. As chicks they have fluffy non-waterproof brown fur (which means they can't swim) - so they're totally dependant on Mom & Dad to feed them for about a year! This Colony is administered and protected by the folks at the Table Mountain National Park, and a very reasonable R 55 (SGD 6.45) entrance fee is levied for adults.

Six Days In Cape Town Boulders Beach Penguin Colony
Boulders Beach Penguin Colony

Once we've had our fill of penguin spotting we drive all the way to the South-Western-most tip of Africa - Cape Point (R 105 / SGD12.31 entrance fee per person). From the parking area you have a choice to either walk up to the Cape Point lighthouse or pay R 52 (SGD 6.10) for a return trip on the Flying Dutchman Funicular. If you're wondering what a Funicular is, apparently that's the proper name for a vehicle on rails (like a train) that's driven by a ground-based cable (like a cable car). We do neither for the moment and make a beeline to the Two Oceans Restaurant for a late lunch instead!

Six Days In Cape Town Two Oceans Restaurant Cape Point
Two Oceans Restaurant Cape Point

The restaurant has indoor and outdoor seating areas - outdoors is nice but it can be a little hot if there aren't much clouds to break up the heat from the sun. The menu is predominantly sushi (nothing special if you're from an Asian country), seafood, and some meat. We thought that our Grilled Cape Rock Lobster was nice and fresh, and the accompanying calamari and chips weren't half bad either. Two main courses plus drinks came up to R 480 (SGD 56.26) - reasonable.

Six Days In Cape Town Cape Rock Lobster Platter
Cape Rock Lobster Platter

After lunch we take the funicular up to the Cape Point lighthouse. The views here are quite spectacular - that body of rock jutting out in the background is the Cape of Good Hope, so named because this landmark is where ships sailing around Africa start to sail Eastwards (rather than Southwards) towards Asia and Australia.

Six Days In Cape Town Cape Point Cape of Good Hope
View of the Cape of Good Hope from Cape Point Lighthouse

It's time to head back to Cape Town, but instead of totally retracing our steps we hang left just before Fish Hoek and head towards Noordhoek instead. What's fancy here is a 10-15minute absolutely stunning piece of coastal road called Chapman's Peak Drive.

Six Days In Cape Town Chapmans Peak Drive
Chapmans Peak Drive

The road winds around the Western edge of the Cape Peninsula mountains, right next to the sea. There's a lot of safe stopping areas along the roads where you can get out of the car and enjoy some absolutely gorgeous views like this one:

Six Days In Cape Town Chapmans Peak Drive
Chapmans Peak Drive

The drive is so nice we couldn't help but to take a video of the entire thing! Apologies for the bad quality in the first half of the video - courtesy of our half-malfunctioning GoPro Hero3+ (which we're still trying to get sorted with GoPro support at time of writing). And no, I didn't actually drive this fast - the video is 2x speed otherwise you'd get bored halfway :)

As we neared the end of the route it was close to sunset, so we got off at one of the stopping areas and enjoyed the sunset, with the nice cooling wind in our hair and the roaring sounds of the waves crashing against the rocky beach. Bliss!

Six Days In Cape Town Chapmans Peak Drive Sunset
Chapmans Peak Drive Sunset

I can't quite remember if we went straight back to the Service Apartment, or if we made a detour to the Canal Walk Shopping Centre (another big Cape Town Mall, also with over 400 stores) - probably not that important though. If you're the clubbing type, Cape Town has a ton of nightlife options ... which we unfortunately won't be able to shed much light on :)

Hope you enjoyed our write-up of our Second Day here in gorgeous Cape Town, and stay tuned for the remainder of the trip in the coming days!

Click here for the next post in this series: Day Three in Cape Town - Two Oceans Aquarium and the Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens

1 comment:

  1. Hi ...

    I read your blog..Its really well written and super informative. I wanted your help...

    I want to visit SA for around 2 weeks in 2017. Broad itinerary is

    Cape town 4 nights

    Stellenbosch 3 nights

    Knysna 2 nights

    Kruger 3 nights

    The problem that I have is I cant decide on June vs December. I have read countless articles and obviously December is the better choice... this is my analysis

    December: Better weather + High Prices+ Crowds

    June : colder weather + lower prices + lesser crowds+ better sightings at Kruger+ better Whale watching prospects.

    I want to know:

    How bad is the weather really in June ...I am from India so we generally love to holiday in cooler places..Is June very very cold and windy or is it more like an European spring?

    What warm clothes does one usually need?

    Is the table mountain usually closed in June? What other activities could be closed?

    How are Stellenbosch and Knysna in June?

    We are travelling with small kids (7 and 3 yrs old) ...will it be bearable for small kids?

    Thanks a lot!