Sunday, October 11, 2009

Chapman's Peak Drive Re-opens

Great news for tourists – both local and foreign - Chapman’s Peak Drive was reopened on Friday 9 October 2009 after being closed for many months, following heavy rock falls. This is also good news for our beautiful Noordhoek valley as the tour buses bring local business, and guest accommodation business including our own can offer something special to tourists. Chappies is a popular scenic drive for our guests. We honestly share our guest’s disappointment when they arrive and find it to be closed.
The route starts at the picturesque fishing harbour of Hout Bay. You will have arrived here either by taking the coastal road from Cape Town city through Sea point, passing Clifton and Camps Bay with its beautiful beach and strip of restaurants favoured by the in-crowd, or by approaching it from the southern suburbs of Cape Town through the exclusive suburb of Constantia; via Constantia Nek. Either way you will be able to enjoy a wonderful scenic drive even before you get there. From Hout bay the road winds steeply up to Chapman's Point, offering breathtaking views of the Hout bay and the harbour until the road reaches lower levels again where it ends at Noordhoek. As you approach Noordhoek you will see Long Beach with its remarkable 8 km of white sand, stretching across to the neighbouring village of Kommetjie, and Slangkop lighthouse. (see our heading picture) Chapman’s peak drive is highly regarded as one of the most spectacular coastal drives in the world. There has been much controversy about the privatization of its management and the eradication of alien vegetation; blamed by some as the cause of frequent rock falls. Full credit, however must given to the operators and that is that they are highly conscious of maintaining a clean safety record.
Even those of us who have always lived in this beautiful part of the Western Cape never tire of this route- which is an alternative to those who live in the South Peninsula of getting to the cape Town city centre- driving along the winding road with its many twists and turns and wonderful panoramic views. Although the road is quite narrow, since it was rebuilt and reopened in 2003, quite a number of opportunities have been provided to pull off to the side of the road, marvel at the views and take advantage of wonderful photographic opportunities. You should not be in a hurry on this road, not just because it has many twists and corners, but because it is also favoured by cyclists who wish to add both challenge and enjoyment to their exercise.
You will also find a number of picnic spots equipped with concrete tables and benches where you could spend a happy couple of hours, as many of the locals do on the weekends. During the time that the whales migrate to the Cape in their mating season, Chapman’s peak drive also offers a great opportunity for whale watching.
Depending upon whether you commence or in your drive in Hout bay, you will find many opportunities to browse in quaint shops for handicrafts collectables, arts and antiques. There are a number of really good restaurants, although my favourite spot is Mariner’s wharf where you can enjoy the view from the excellent restaurant upstairs or join the locals eating fish and chips at outside benches , while enjoying watching the fishing fleet come and go.
On the Noordhoek end of the drive you will be sure to find many attractions to seduce you to tarry. Noordhoek farm village is a browser’s paradise of galleries, collectibles, and handicrafts, as well as wine shop and delicatessen in the food barn. You will find plenty of accommodation in Noordhoek, ranging from luxury to affordable, such as ours, and B ‘n B’s or self catering.

History of Chapman’s peak drive
Chapman's Peak Drive was the brain child of Sir Frederic de Waal, the first administrator of the Cape Province. Work on the road began in 1915, although may were of the opinion that it was an impossible task. The road was blasted into the mountain side and is a masterpiece of road construction It was formally opened in 1922. Rock falls were a constant threat and a series of unfortunate events lead to the closing of Chapman’s Peak Drive in January 2000.
Due to its sensitive location within the Cape Peninsula National Park and the provisions of Sections 23 and 24 of the National Environmental Management Act, No 107 of 1998, an integrated environmental approach to the rehabilitation and upgrading of Chapman's Peak Drive was required.
This turnkey project was carried out by the Chapman’s Peak Construction Joint Venture. This joint-venture R145 million project was overseen by Entilini Concessions, the special-purpose company established by the consortium of Concor Holdings, Haw & Inglis and Marib Holdings. The project has been undertaken with full participation of the local authorities and communities.
You can find more information at their website.

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