Camps Bay

> Camps Bay

Camps Bay is a trendy village which is just ten minutes drive from the centre of, Cape Town. Set against the impressive backdrop of the Twelve Apostles mountain range, Camps Bay beach is also one of Cape Town’s largest and most beautiful beaches.

Many restaurants and bars line the palm-tree promenade which is opposite the beach. Behind them are the luxury houses of many of Cape Town’s wealthiest residents. Local life is casual and in the evening residents and holiday makers can be found enjoying sundowners at the trendy sidewalk cafés facing the beachfront.

A brief history

Jan van Riebeeck arrived in the Cape in 1652, having been sent there by the Dutch East India Company to establish a refreshment station for the ships passing the Cape on their new trade route with the East. After he settled down, he proceeded to explore the surrounding area. He therefore crossed over the Kloof and discovered a bay with a fine beach and big forest behind Table Mountain. This area which was to become Camps Bay, was not utilised for a long time as it had few attractions for early farmers and the line of breakers made it dangerous for shipping. Then along came a Mr. Fredrick Ernst Von Kamptz, after whom the area was named, who resided on a farm called “Ravensteyn” during the 1700s

The beach

It offers spectacular views of The mountain, including the Twelve Apostles as previously mentioned and Lions Head and its fine white sand is often packed with beautiful people. The long stretch of beach is ideal for sunbathing and its open flatness means fun games like Frisbee and beach volleyball can also be enjoyed by the more active visitors.

The sea is also quite calm and good for swimming. At the southern end, you will find a tidal pool. But these is also the opportunity for surfing at the northern end. There is a stretch of lawn in front of the beach where you can enjoy a picnic, or sit on the beaches and watch life pass you by.

Camps Bay beach is safe, clean and family friendly.

Walks and mountain trails

There are a number of walks that can be enjoyed, but please remember the following tips before embarking on one of them. Don’t leave any valuables in your car, Take warm and waterproof clothing, as well as drinking water (as there is none on the walks). It is also not advisable to walk alone and to have a mobile phone with you.

Here are some useful contacts with phone numbers Cable Car: Tel: +27 (0)21 424 0015 and Mountain Search and Rescue Contact Number: Tel: +27 (0)21 948 9900
The Pipe Track

This starts at the top of Kloof Nek at the same place where you turn off to go to the Table Mountain cable car.

This path goes along the top of Camps Bay and follows an old water pipe. Generally a flat walk with a few ups and downs, it is a very pleasant walk. The view over the bay and up the Twelve Apostles is spectacular.

Directions: You can either drive or take public transport to Kloof Nek. Park at the beginning of the Cable Car road. You will find that five Roads join at Kloof Nek junction, in the direction of Camps Bay, Clifton, the city bowl (M62 Kloof Nek Rd), Lion’s Head and the Cableway. Stop and park as at the beginning of the cable way road, either on the left or the right. The trail starts on the right (Western) side of the road up a couple of stone steps and along a stone and concrete path. The path passes a small house on a short uphill and rapidly becomes unpaved.

The Pipe Track


This trail goes from the same path as The Pipe track. It is important to remember that it is the only trail up the mountain from the Camps Bay side and is a strenuous uphill hike. The track is very well signposted and takes you all the way to Silvermine Nature Reserve past the reservoirs. Allow at least 6 hours for this trail and Stick to the path!

Lions Head

Follow the signs to Signal Hill for a short distance. You will find a parking area shortly on both sides of the road. Follow this track up and circle to the top of Lions head. The first 10 minutes are a steep uphill, the path then levels off. You will have to climb up some chains to reach the summit.

A popular activity amongst the locals, is to climb the mountain when it is full moon and watch the moon rise over Cape Town. Should you decide to do this, please Ttke care coming down in the dark and don’t forget a good torch and warm clothes. This walk takes approximately an hour and a half. A different trail starts at the end of Chilworth Road, in Camps Bay. This trail is a steep climb until it joins the main trail up the mountain.
Along the Sea – Victoria Road

Follow Victoria Road (the main rd ) from Camps Bay along the coast towards Sea Point. When you get to Clifton, you should take the steps down to 1st beach and walk along till 4th beach. Climb the stairs back to Victoria Rd and continue along the road towards Sea Point. You then take the first road left which goes down to the sea and meet up at the beginning of the Sea Point promenade. If you were to follow the promenade you would ultimately end up at the Waterfront. This is a lovely evening walk and you will join many Capetonians out for their daily exercise

The Glen Go from Kloof Nek Road in the direction of Round House following the signs and park outside the Stan’s Halt Youth Hostel. Then follow the signs heading up the valley towards Table Mountain. This walk is really beautifull as it is in a lovely lush valley with many trees.

Interestingly, the Round House had originally been built for Lord Charles Somerset and was used as his hunting lodge. Then Horak became the owner in 1813 because the house was too basic for Lord Somerset. William Jones was responsible for the improvements in 1827. In 1837 the Lodge was sold and has been operating as a hotel or restaurant ever since. It is a National Monument along with the rest of the Glen. The road running past Round House is still the original track from the city.

The heart of Camps Bay

Camps Bay Heart

The next time that you are in the Camps Bay area ask one of the locals where the “Heart of Camps Bay” is situated. They are sure to look at you with a frown and openly admit that they don’t know.

To get a good view of the heart of Camps Bay travel to the Maidens Cove parking area between Camps Bay and Clifton which is near to the Glen Country Club. Look up at the cablecar station and you will then see the narrowest view of Table Mountain that can be seen from anywhere in Cape Town. Take a vertical view line below the cablecar station and move your eye in a downward fashion very slowly towards the left. There you will see a HUGE ditch type structure come into view set in the mountain landscape. Look very carefully at the shape of the area and you will see that it forms the perfect shape of a heart (with ventricles too) . Voila you will have found the heart of Camps Bay. A fair warning is that you will not see what I am telling you unless you know what you are looking for and this will only happen if you follow the instructions that I have given you to the letter. Once you have seen the heart it will be with you forever. Let me know per return mail if you get to see this awesome part of the Camps Bay scenery.

An easily identifiable landmark in Camps Bay is the Rotunda, part of The Bay Hotel, which is situated on the beachfront. The Rotunda, built in 1904 was used for dancing, roller skating, silent movie shows, boxing and many other sporting events. A further famous landmark is the Round House situated in the beautiful forested Glen area bordering Clifton, and used as a hunting lodge by Lord Charles Somerset in the 1800’s.

Commissioned to build a road from Sea Point to Camps Bay, Thomas Bain used convict labourers. Completed in 1887 it was named Victoria Road in honour of Queen Victoria’s jubilee in 1888.

Historic places to see in Camps Bay:

Woodhead Reservoir Museum on top of Table Mountain Camps Bay Retreat – Argyle Street The Round House The Pipe Track Camps Bay Retreat – Argyle Street The Rotunda – The Bay Hotel Philly’s Plaque – Camps Bay Library Woodhead Reservoir Museum on top of Table Mountain Old Cannon – Opposite Camps Bay High School Power Station – now Theatre on the Bay Heated swimming pool remains – behind the War Memorial War Memorial – Victoria Road, near Theatre on the Bay

Places of worship!!

CHRISTIAN Evangelical / Interdenominational Camps Bay United Church Sunday Services : 9:30 am Worship 7:00 pm Worship There is a Sunday School and Créche that will look after the children of members and visitors. There are also Wednesday fellowship and Bible study groups. Please contact us for more information in this regard. Contact: Minister Rev. Roger Horwood Tel: (021) 438 1124 Office: (021) 438 9674 Farquhar Road ,Camps Bay
CPSA Anglican St. Peters Anglican Church Sunday Services: 8:30am Morning Sunday Holy Eucharist 7:00pm Evening Sunday Holy Eucharist Weekday Services: 9:30am Wednesday Holy Eucharist Contact: Minister Rev. Margaret Fourie Tel: (021) 438 2478 Address: 12 Park Avenue Camps Bay

Catholic St. Theresa’s Catholic Church Holy Mass:Sunday 9:00am & 7:00pm Monday 8:30am Tuesday 8:30am Wednesday 6:00pm Thursday 8:30am Friday 6:00pm Saturday 9:00am or 6:00pm Confessions: Saturday 8:30 – 9:00am and 5:15 – 5:45pm Holy Hour: 1st Friday of the month at 5:15pm Baptism by appointment. Contact: Parish Priest FR PC Thornton Tel: (021) 438 9340 Address: 8 The Fairway Camps Bay

JEWISH Camps Bay Shul Daily Evening Services: Times vary between 5:45pm and 6:15pm , depending on the season Sabbath services: Friday evenings: Please contact the office for times Saturday morning service: 8:45am Sunday morning service: 8:00 am Contact: Rabbi Desmond Maizels Secretary: Mrs. Kaplan Email: Tel: (021) 438 8082 Address: 14 Chilworth Road Camps Bay

Safety tips and precautions

What to take

A small backpack for walks and trips. Summer clothes for the day and warmer clothes for the evenings, evenings can cool down quite a lot. A windbreaker is also advisable as the weather is very changeable in Cape Town, and the wind from the Atlantic can be rather icy. A good pair of walking shoes and sunglasses. Plenty of Suntan Lotion and After-Sun. Mosquito repellent & insect bite relief cream. Plug adaptors, as South Africa has a unique plug system. Adapters for most countries are usually available in many shops and supermarkets.

Getting Around

It is best to hire your own rental car for your stay in Cape Town. This is a far safer option than most public taxis and will cost you less overall than private taxis. Buses do are not as regular as other countries and do not always go to the more outlying and beautiful areas of the Cape.


Precaution as opposed to paranoia is the best way to remain safe in Cape Town. The majority of visitors to Cape Town come and go without incident. But, as in any other city, tourists are prime targets for theft. The best advice would be to keep your wits about you and to take the usual sensible precautions:

Avoid common tourist traps such as flashing money and credit cards around, and wearing an excessive amount of jewellery. Be aware of where your valuables are and try keep your bag strapped across your chest and shoulder so that it hangs in front of you and can be seen. Don’t walk the city streets alone after dark – keep to the busier areas and take taxi’s to get around. Walking around in the daytime is usually safe. Lock all car doors at all times in the city. Park in lit areas at night. Don’t leave your belongings where they can be seen in the car to tempt passers-by. Put them in the boot when you park (day or night), this will only take you a couple of seconds. Take as little as possible to the beach.

Listen to the weather report in the morning before going on an adventure up Table Mountain, as people have been trapped on the mountain in a cloudbank due to lack of foresight