Saturday, September 24, 2011 Home

Down the "Atlantic" Side of the Cape Peninsula

You are never too far from the beach in Cape Town and today we are touring the “beachiest” area – the peninsula that stretches below the city. Near the city proper, expensive houses step down the mountainsides until they literally hang above the water.

It would be a stunning place to call home.

We have a chance to get off the bus and explore (and shop) a bit at Hout Bay, where there is both a lovely little commercial harbor and a crafts market.

I buy a handful of beaded jewelry from a cheerful vendor.

Back on the bus, we quickly reach Chapman’s Peak Drive, a stunning roadway running between Hout Bay and Noordhoek.

The scenery isn’t the only thing that makes this a spectacular roadway – it is also quite a feat of engineering. In order to build a road on what is generally an unstable mountainside, engineers in the early 1900’s used geology as their guide, building the road surface on the solid granite contour and carving the roadside cuttings out of the unstable (but more workable) sedimentary layer above. Still, the road has always been susceptible to falling rock and landslides. During the past decade or so, improvements have been made to increase the safety of the roadway, including the construction of a half tunnel (the roadway was set into the side of the mountain, with the overhang providing protection), rock shelters, concrete canopies, and catch fences.

Despite these improvements, the road is still closed during severe storms and at other times when rock slides are most likely to occur.

After the great sweep of beach at Noordhoek, we turn inland for a bit before we return to the shore and the Cape of Good Hope.

(That’s a bontebok. There are lots of them in this area, but very few were grazing near the road.)


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