This road falls under the category of a suburban pass and after a short steep ascent from Kloof Nek it climbs rapidly via two 180 degree hairpins to level out at the lower cableway station. Thereafter it runs more or less on an even contour line all along the north face of Table Mountain. Some years ago, rock slides caused the the road to be closed at the 4,1 km mark, leaving the remainder of the eastern section open only to hikers and cyclists. The road provides unparalleled views of Cape Town, the harbour, Robben island and the Cape Flats. It is usually extremely congested with tourist vehicles wanting to access the cableway and hiking trails.
Kloof Nek Road falls under the category of a suburban pass and Cape Town has no shortage of those! The road is steep and dangerous and has something of a reputation for fatal accidents. It connects the city centre with Camps Bay through the obvious neck between Table Mountain and Lions Head. It was built in 1848 when Kloof Nek was used primarily as a look-out post for soldiers and the road was used as a supply route to Camps Bay.
This old farm road has been modernised over the years and today carries bumper to bumper traffic to the northern suburbs around Durbanville. The 3,6 km long tarred road (designated as the M13), descends 135m producing an average gradient of 1:27, but the curvy part near Hillcrest is quite steep at 1:7. The pass plays host to a number of quality wine estates, including Bloemendal, Nitida, Hillcrest and Durbanville Hills. The little pass is also colloqually known as Tiekiedraai for its very sharp corner near Hillcrest.
Despite the romantic, historical connotations of its name "Ou Kaapse Weg" ('Old Cape Road'), this is actually a relatively modern road, which was opened in 1968. There is a jeep track that runs more or less paralell, but higher up the northern side of the pass, which is purportedly an old wagon road road used to cart ore from the silver mine lower down the mountain in the late 1800's, and which is still accessible to hikers who walk the many beautiful routes available on both sides of the pass within the Silvermine Nature Reserve.
The pass is a major one covering a distance of 10,6 km and in that length contains 26 bends, curves and corners including 3 full horseshoe bends and another 3 corners in excess of 90 degrees. The pass offers a modern, well bult road with superb views over it's entire length of both False Bay and the Atlantic Ocean with the Steenberg Mountains and Silvermine Nature Reserve with its winter waterfall keeping travellers entertained through the middle section. It gives access to Fish Hoek, Noordhoek, Kommetjie, Simonstown and the Cape Point Nature Reserve.
Chapman's Peak Drive dates back to the early 1900's and is without question one of Cape Town's Top 10 tourist destinations. Its popularity is due to the incredible scenery on offer, viewed from a road which has been been literally hewn out of the almost vertical cliff faces on the Cape Peninsula's western side.
The 10 km long pass connects Hout Bay in the north with Noordhoek in the south and was converted into a toll road in 2003 to cover the high costs of maintaining the road to a safe standard. Along its length you will drive through more than 80 bends, corners and curves and see some impressive modern engineering, including massive steel catch nets and two semi-tunnels. Many sections of unstable rock-face have been reinforced with shotcrete.
This pass is loaded with drama and history dating back to 1910 and is best appreciated driven slowly. It must have seemed an impossible task building a road on such an inhospitable and dangerous cliff face, but the road building pioneers did the job!
The more observant viewers will notice that we have not included our standard vertical profile nor simulated fly-past clips in the first video. The reason for this is that Google Earth simply cannot 'read' the road correctly and the results are too distorted to provide an accurate simulation. This is the only pass in South Africa, where this has occurred.
Mountain Passes South Africa is a website dedicated to the research, documentation, photographing and filming of the mountain passes of South Africa.
Passes are classified according to provinces and feature a text description, Fact File including GPS data, a fully interactive dual-view map and a narrated YouTube video.
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