A Cape Point self drive trip is the perfect way to tick the truly spectacular Cape Point off your bucket list. If you have a hire car while in Cape Town, we really recommend doing a self drive trip down the Cape Peninsula including visiting the penguins at Boulders Beach, the Cape of Good Hope which is the most south-westerly point in Africa and the amazing Chapman’s Peak drive. You can do it in a half a day or take your time and spend the whole day. You can do it as a round trip driving in either direction, although we recommend you go clockwise to make the most of the views of the Chapman’s Peak drive.
You start by taking the M3 freeway out of Cape Town. Skirting the base of Table Mountain and going past Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens and the University of Cape Town you then drive through Constantia, which was the Cape’s very first wine producing area, on your way to False Bay. You can then choose to take the low road – which goes along the waterfront and through the sea side towns of Muizenburg and Kalk Bay, or you can turn onto the M75 and take the high road to Kalk Bay. This road allows you spectacular views across the wide and sweeping False Bay and you may see the shark spotters keeping watch for great white sharks.
When you get to Kalk Bay consider stopping at one of the yummy cafes, pop into the Olympia Bakery for some delicious treats (they do the best chocolate croissants) or if the time and mood takes you have a delicious cocktail at Cape to Cuba. If you have time take walk around the little working harbour and see if any seals are around to say hello (although keep you distance as they can be aggressive). Then continue down the coast through Fish Hoek to the naval port of Simon’s Town and follow the signs to penguin viewing and Boulders Beach.
Boulders Beach is protected by South Africa National Parks so if you have a Wild Card (annual pass) make sure to bring it with you on today’s drive and it will save you the entrance fees. From two penguin couples in 1982 Boulders Beach is now home to over 2000 Africa Penguins and what a privilege it is to stroll down the well sign posted boardwalks and spy your first penguin burrow, then your first penguin and then to hopefully be confronted by many penguins on the beach itself. Try and take your time, find a comfortable spot and watch what the penguins might get up to. We visited on a very hot January day and after waiting perhaps 10 minutes we had great fun watching them build up the energy to go for a swim – waddling down to the water then darting so gracefully through the waves. African Penguins also mate for life and we watched a few couples preening each other adoringly. Other penguins were in various states of moulting, some still covered in a full pelt of fluff, others shedding the fluff for shining new black coats. Penguins are land bound for 21 days when moulting – it must feel so amazing to finally have your new coat and be able to go out into the bay and feed on pilchards and anchovies after that fast!
The penguins usually breed from February to August – peaking March to May. Some had laid eggs early when we were there and they looked absolutely boiling as they steadfastly sat on the eggs, occasionally fighting each other to protect their territory yet working together to scare off the great big scary kelp gulls.
After your precious time with the penguins enjoy a gelato or stroll through the market before getting back in your car for a spectacular drive down to the Cape of Good Hope. Another part of the SanParks estate, this time the large and scattered Table Mountain National Park, again don’t forget your wild card for free entry. Rugged coastlines, white sand, rocky beaches, incredibly hued waters, sheer cliff faces in habited by incredible sea birds, lighthouses, lizards that look like mini crocodiles, ostriches, eland, baboons, seals and the most diverse and stunning fynbos flora! The most south-western part of Africa has something for everyone … definitely make the climb (or take the funicular) up to the Cape Point Lighthouse but also spend time making your way along some of the less busy roads and coastlines.
From the Cape of Good Hope you can turn left and make your way up the western side of the Cape Peninsula through the picturesque town of Scarborough. There are lots of great places to stop for refreshments or perhaps a swim – although the water is considerably colder on this side of the Peninsula. Once you drive past Noordhoek you start the Chapman’s Peak Drive. To my mind this rivals the famous cliffside drives of southern Europe and we all oohed and aahed constantly – blown away by the incredible views of steep cliffs and incredibly blue waters as well as the amazing road cut right through the cliff face. The drive culminates at Hout Bay with the stunning Sentinel Peak rearing up out of the water to protect the bay. But the wonders don’t end there and from Hout Bay you wind your way up and over the hills to be confronted by the back of Table Mountains and a road which takes you right along the base of the stupendous Twelve Apostles. From here you can either cut over the pass to Lions Head and Signal Hill and be back in Cape Town or you can spend more tie exploring the seaside suburbs of Green Point and Sea Point before making your way around the point to the Waterfront.
- Go early if busy.
- Consider getting/don’t forget your Wild Card.
- Beware of baboons at the Cape of Good Hope.
- Take wide angles lenses for the landscape but also zoom lenses for the penguins.
The Cape Point Self Drive trip is perfect during your stay in Cape Town on one of our following itineraries: