Cape Town tourist icon Chapman’s Peak turns 100 years old!



The 100 year inauguration anniversary of Chapman’s Peak, or Chappies as it is known locally, was celebrated in Cape Town recently.

Work on the Drive commenced in 1915, cutting a road along a number of ridges, to connect Hout Bay and Noordhoek.  The building of the road by prisoners, at a cost of £20000, was hailed as an engineering feat when it officially opened on 6 May 1922, inaugurated as Chapman’s Peak Drive.

Motorists were offered free access through Chapman’s Peak Drive on the anniversary weekend. The normal fee for motor vehicles is R54.

The Drive was named after John Chapman, the captain’s mate of an English ship that sailed into what is now Hout Bay in 1607.  He rowed to shore in search of provisions in that year.

The Drive is 9 km long, and has 114 curves. It offers perfect views of the Atlantic Ocean as well as the dramatic Karbonkelberg mountain in Hout Bay. Two major sporting events incorporate Chapman’s Peak Drive in their routes: the Cape Town Cycle Tour, and the Two Oceans Marathon.

In 1977 a part of the Drive washed away, and was replaced by a bridge, at a cost of R150000.  The Drive has been the sad scene of severe accidents due to rockfalls, leading to a driver becoming a quadriplegic, and to the death of another motorist. Other vehicles have gone over the edge of The Drive, becoming the subject of two famous Advertising campaigns, for Mercedes-Benz and BMW.

As a result of the rockfall danger, the Drive was closed in 2000, and reengineered over a three year period, leading to the introduction of a toll to be paid to cover the construction cost.

A total of 5000 drivers are registered regular users of Chapman’s Peak Drive, in addition to the thousands of tourists using this scenic route.


Chris von Ulmenstein, WhaleTales Blog: Tel +27 082 55 11 323 Twitter:@Ulmenstein Facebook: Chris von Ulmenstein, My Cape Town Guide/Mein Kapstadt Guide Instagram: @Chrissy_Ulmenstein @MyCapeTownGuide

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