Saturday, 25 April 2015

Cape Town: Camps Bay / Clifton Coastal Running Route

Click here for route map
Length 8.1 km (5 miles), terrain: a bit hilly, gain 114 meters

Cape Town running routes:
Camps Bay / Clifton beach run
City Center to Waterfront run
For other running routes, see the Route List

If you're in Cape Town (Kaapstad) for more than a day, make sure you visit the nearby beaches just on the other side of Signal Hill from the city center. When you cross Kloof Nek pass and drive down to Camps Bay and Clifton, you enter a different world: a rugged coastline full of cliffs, rocks and beaches. And there's fresh sea-air and dramatically changing weather.
Sunset at Camps Bay
The shore is lined with beautiful beach neighborhoods marching up the hillsides. Life here is relaxed, dominated by nature's spectacle rather than the human drama that fills the streets of downtown.

And above the whole scene thrones the majestic wall of Table Mountain, seemingly close enough to reach out and grab. The cliffs on this side of the mountain form an undulating series of buttes called the Twelve Apostles. And the lonely spire of Lion's Head dominates the scene further south at Clifton.
Victoria Road in Camps Bay
The only half-way level place to run here is along the shore drive, Victoria Road. It stays fairly low along the water in Camps Bay, but gradually heads uphill through neighboring Clifton, just to the north.

This route will explore both little towns. You can keep it simple and run on the sidewalk of Victoria Road, or you can make little detours at some of the beaches, to get closer to the water's edge and the natural beauty waiting to be explored down there.
Surfers unloading their boards below Lions Head
We'll start the run in the heart of Camps Bay, at the corner of Victoria Road and Camps Bay Drive. This is the little shopping district, with a lot of restaurants. The beach is across the street, with a strip of parkland in-between.

First, we'll run south into the suburb of Bakoven ("the oven"), then turn around and run north all the way through Clifton and then return to this spot again.

So, ready to go? Then turn southwards, with the water to your right and run along the road. You'll pass the police station and then Bakoven Bay, lined by rounded boulders, where you will pass it in a long curve.
bakoven bay
Bakoven Bay, heading south
When you get to Houghton Road, at the 1-km mark, turn around and head back north again. The sidewalk is generally parked full of cars through the rest of Bakoven.

Across from the police station, there is a walled-in section in the water that forms a pool so that the icy-cold water can warm up during low tide.
camps bay beach
Camps Bay Beach
When you get back to the starting place, at the beach, you can get away from the road traffic by either running on the brick sidewalk in the grassy park, or run right down along the wet sand on the beach, next to the water. This is the most fun spot to run: on weekends, there are lots of people playing on the sand, and on weekdays, you have the beach for yourself.
Yoga on the beach
At the north end of Camps Bay Beach, keep left and take the little walkway that winds around the back end of the next little beach, Glen Beach. At the end of this tiny beach, you need to take one of the little walkways back up to the road, because cliffs block the way. This is the 2.8-km mark.

Camps Bay High School is on the right side, with Lion's Head rising straight up behind it.

Soon you'll see the parking lot to Maidens Cove Park on the left, where you can turn-in to do a bit of scrambling over the big rocks out in the water down below, and to look at the rock pools left by the tide. This park is mainly used by families having a barbeque next to the rocks. I highly recommend this little detour!
At Maidens Cove, Table Mountain in background
Back at Victoria Road, the way continues uphill into Clifton. Just past Maidens Cove Park, you pass the older part of Clifton, the Ridge, a community of bungalows perched along a picturesque beach, with rock islands lying out offshore. This is a favorite place for yachts to anchor on weekends.
Clifton at the Ridge
Then comes the newer part of Clifton, where new apartments rise along the cliffs right from the water's edge, up to the street 40 meters higher. Then, across the street, other buildings continue the climb up the slope towards Signal Hill.
The view downwards in Clifton
Looking down towards the water, you occasionally catch a fascinating glimpse of a bit of beach far below, between the buildings.

Keep running until you pass the last buildings in Clifton, at the 5.4-km mark. The road starts heading downhill again here, past bare cliffs, towards the next town of Sea Point. You can look out in both directions here, with stunning views either way.
Turn-around point in Clifton
Now just turn around and head back downhill to Camps Bay again, getting the wonderful opportunity to see all this amazing scenery again from the other direction!

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