Have you driven Clarence Drive? It’s another little-known Western Cape gem


Have you driven Clarence Drive? It’s another little-known Western Cape gem


By Tamlyn Ryan of Tamlyn Amber Wanderlust

Few things are more invigorating than road trips – whether it’s driving along an open road with nothing but sheep and farmlands flanking either side of you; rocking along to good tunes with your closest friends, as you embark on your next journey – or simply the sense of wonder you feel when the dark road and pinpricks of light slowly transform into a breath-taking African sunrise.

And here in South Africa – and the Western Cape in particular – travellers are uniquely blessed with a wonderful array of special road trips to choose from… Whether it’s the West Coast, Chapman’s Peak Drive, Garden Route, Panorama Route, the Wild Coast or the popular Route 62 that calls out to your travel-hungry heart, these road trips are all incredible and filled to the brim with their fair share of natural beauty and wildlife to enjoy as you drive – or even on your picnic-orientated pitstop.

But, as with most things in life, it is often the less mainstream, quieter road trips that are the picture of perfection… For me, one such road trip in this vein is the gorgeous Clarence Drive, which is found along the R44 between the charming Western Cape coastal towns of Gordon’s Bay and Rooi-Els.

So, to celebrate MotorHappy’s Ultimate Journey campaign – which invites travellers to share and promote stories and photos around their favourite South African road trip during September’s vital World Tourism Month – I thought I would share a bit about why I love Clarence Drive best of all… despite having experienced the famed Chapman’s Peak Drive and many other incredible road trips spread right across South Africa.

You see, to put it simply: Clarence Drive offers everything a road-tripping enthusiast or traveller could desire: sharp turns and winding bends (just to make your stomach flip with excitement), edged by dramatic cliff faces and the pristine, deep blue of the Atlantic Ocean. Along the way, there are also several viewing spots to stop and soak up the untouched beauty of the rich, vibrant Overberg Region, just in case you wish to make time stand still for a while and truly savour your journey.

One of my favourite ways to enjoy this amazing drive is to set off from the Mother City, making a glorious detour through the world-renowned Cape Winelands. Here, you can stop for lunch or a very early supper (for Clarence Drive is best experienced during daylight or at sunset) in Franschhoek before snaking your way up the stunning Franschhoek Pass, which is situated along the R45.

This route ensures you enjoy not one but two incredible drives in one – and allows you to soak up the diverse, ever-changing landscapes of the Cape, as city streets give way to lush vineyards and rural farmlands, interrupted by little more than farm dams, forests and incredible Cape fynbos and wild flowers.

As the impressive Hottentots Holland mountains encircle you and valleys and vast dams stretch out before you (even during a devastating drought), you will see why this route is so special.

And while normally on a trip like this, it’s not always about the end destination but rather about the journey… the best part of all will be your final destination of Clarence Drive, which is the cherry on the cake – and possibly the most magical part of the entire trip to boot!

You’ll pass highlights like Theewaterskloof Dam, the beautiful Elgin Valley and Grabouw, which are fruit-producing hotspots (particularly when it comes to apples) and other great stops along the way, such as the Peregrine Farm Stall, The Pool Room and The Hickory Shack. These are all equipped with delicious cuisine to top up your tummy’s own tank if the kilometres start to add up…

And then, as you crest Sir Lowry’s Pass – another jaw-droppingly beautiful mountain pass-turned-scenic-road – it’s just a short drive through the outskirts of Gordon’s Bay (itself a pretty, coastal town with friendly people and a slower, more laid-back vibe) before you reach the start of the swoon-worthy Clarence Drive…

As your car navigates the countless twists and turns, remember to really soak up the views, pull out your camera (or smartphone) for some memorable snaps and let Clarence Drive woo you with a whole new sense of wanderlust, road trip vibes and everything else you need for a memorable travel experience in beautiful South Africa!

If you opt to stay over in Gordon’s Bay or its surrounds for a few days, be sure to check out some of the area’s best, nature-rich attractions, like Kogelberg Nature Reserve, Betty’s Bay and the Stony Point penguins, Harold National Botanical Garden and more… all of which are within close driving distance to Gordon’s Bay and easily accessible through Clarence Drive!

And, as this is also the beginning of the famed Cape Whale Coast, you might even spot a whale or two, if the season’s right and fortune decides to smile at you.

Clarence Drive is the kind of drive that road trip dreams are made of – and certainly warrants being included among the world’s most scenic coastal drives.

With its intimidating cliffs, rich Cape history, rich fauna and flora and of course, impeccable ocean-meets-land scenery, this is why Clarence Drive is my ultimate journey – and I hope in time it will become yours too.

So, pack your bags, rev up the engine and make for Clarence Drive to enjoy your next lifechanging road trip experience in sunny South Africa… You won’t be disappointed, I can assure you of that!

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