Mountains and sea are always a great combination when it comes to tourist attractions and there can be few places in the world to rival the Cape Peninsula at the end of the African continent.
Everywhere you look, there’s a stunning scene begging to be photographed or included as a selfie backdrop. But in this land of incredible scenery I challenge anyone to come up with anything better than the False Bay coastline.
Across the Cape Peninsula there are several merging points – where one set of amazing landscape takes over from another. I may be biased, but Muizenberg is probably the Big Daddy of these. Stand in the right place and you get to see a panorama that has to be a world beater. You have to do a bit of work and turn through 180 degrees, but the reward is you get to see the entire Table Mountain Chain – well almost the whole Chain, there’s a bit missing from the end, the bit beyond Simon’s Town, but it’s still really impressive.
To see this phenomenon a slight detour is necessary. The usual tourist route around False Bay takes the unwitting along either Main Road or up Boyes Drive. You have to head to the other side of the Zandvlei Lagoon and stand on the edge of the open field for all to be revealed.
Taking the High Road
There are two ways to take in the sites of the False Bay coastline. There’s the crawl down Main Road which hugs the shore line and takes you through all the villages starting with Muizenberg and ending with Simon’s town and there’s Boyes Drive. This is the way of majestic views that go for ever. Looking out across False Bay is something that you won’t forget – ever. There is nothing weather-dependent about this trip. It’s stunning in all types of weather save the worst storms; and even then…
The first stop I make on this trip is the shark spotter’s station. It’s a great spot for several reasons, not the least of which is the available parking, albeit on the wrong side of the road.
This vantage point is great for spotting sharks for the same reason that it’s great for taking photographs. You have a perfect ‘down-the-line” shot of the coastline from Muizenberg beach at Surfers’ Corner all the way to the town of Gordon’s Bay and The Strand and then on to Hangklip, about forty kilometers away, on the other side of the bay.
There’s also a stunning view in the other direction towards Simon’s Town over the Kalk Bay harbour. This is a classic vista of quaint houses hugging the mountainside all looking out to sea. Fortunately, virtually all the buildings only reach two or three levels at the most, so there are no eyesores and the ambiance is decidedly old-worldish.
Following the Sun
One important aspect of this trip – I think – is to time it properly. The sun is vital and from a photography point of view the light starts dying at about 11h00. It’s vital to get there early if you want dramatic lighting in the villages and on the water.
From the shark spotter’s eyrie the trip is a ramble. Virtually anywhere you stop will give you great views and something to photograph.
If you take a break from the sea view, there is the mountain right behind you. During the winter months there are many mountain springs that provide great opportunities for foliage shots and there are always birds hanging around in the trees and bushes.
Kalk Bay Harbour and Environs.
Boyes Drive comes down from the mountain at the southern edge of Kalk Bay.
This little town is well worth a visit. It’s has all the usual villagey things going and is an antique-hunters’ paradise. This is where the remnants of the British Empire often fetch up.
There are also many really great little cafes and restaurants of every stripe and then of course there is the harbour with its fishing fleet – all good for great pictures.
The rest of this trip – from Kalk Bay to Simon’s Town will be the subject of another blog. I need to go get some pictures of it. ‘Til then…