|Extract from Passes & Poorts: Getaway’s top 30 scenic mountain
routes in the Western Cape by Marion Whitehead.
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Clarence Drive should be more famous than Chapman’s Peak Drive as its cliff-hugging, 22-kilometre road is on a larger scale, with views over the deep blue ocean right across False Bay and glimpses of delightful coves and beaches. The route can be combined with a trip into the mountains over Sir Lowry’s Pass and Houw Hoek Pass on the N2 to make a great circular drive of about 200 kilometres from Cape Town. You can make it a fun day-outing or overnight at one of the many delightful spots along the way. The modernisation of Sir Lowry’s Pass means it’s no longer an adventure to drive, but the image across the Cape Flats of Cape Town nestled at the foot of Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak will stick in your memory. The steep, curved dual carriageway over Houw Hoek Pass gives motorists enough of a glimpse of the wildness of this mountainous area to appreciate the barrier it once presented to the expansion of the old Cape Colony.
The circular route along the N2 from Cape Town takes you through Somerset West, up Sir Lowry’s Pass and into the beautiful Kogelberg Biosphere Reserve. It then descends Houw Hoek Pass and takes the R43 towards Hermanus. Turn right at the R44 to Kleinmond and drive the coastal route via Betty’s Bay and Rooi Els. If you approach Clarence Drive from the south, most of the view points are on the left shoulder of the road. Tip: If you opt for a double helping of the breathtaking Clarence Drive on the R44, travelling from Gordon’s Bay to Rooi Els and back again, bear in mind that sections are deeply shadowed in the early morning. This means that your best photo opportunities will be in the afternoon when the sun is low and colours the rocks in rich, warm hues. Tip: Motorbikers love this route for its curves on good, tarred surfaces. Cyclists are advised to stay off the busy N2 and rather transport their bikes and ride Clarence Drive from Gordon’s Bay. Take a detour: At Grabouw, take the R321 over Viljoen’s Pass towards Villiersdorp. After the bridge over Theewaterskloof Dam, turn left onto the R45, taking the Franschhoek Pass to the town of the same name. Return the same way, but after crossing the Theewaterskloof bridge, take a left turn onto the gravel road over Vanderstel Pass to Bot River, cross the N2 and continue to Kleinmond.
Best view and picnic spot
You’ll be spoiled for choice as practically every parking area on Clarence Drive has incredible views across the bay
Best day hike
Crystal Pools on Clarence Drive
Silver Sands Beach, Betty’s Bay
Favourite farm stall
Houw Hoek Farm Stall
Best botanical garden
Harold Porter National Botanical Garden in Betty’s Bay
Funniest penguin colony
Stony Point Penguin Reserve at Betty’s Bay
Houw Hoek Country Inn
Best open-air concert venue
Paul Cluver Amphitheatre
Green Mountain Eco Route