There is a hidden gem about 40-50 minutes’ drive from 26 on First. The locals visit often. Tourists may come from one of the many surrounding guesthouses, but most times, this spectacular, sandy white beach is usually admired from high up on Chapman’s Peak Drive. It consists of 8km of powdery sand, perfectly situated in the shadow of the mountain between a lagoon and the cold Atlantic Ocean. It’s certainly off the beaten track, but once you’ve visited you’ll not forget one of Cape Town’s greatest secrets. Noordhoek, (Northern Corner) named by the Dutch in 1743, extends from the foot of Chapman’s Peak to the next little village of Kommetjie. It is the playground for all ages. Young families frolic in the river, exuberant dogs run with joyful abandon, barking at the wind, diving in the ocean, chasing the birds. Schools of surfers practise their skills waiting for the perfect wave. The beach is such a happy place.
The suburb of Noordhoek, shady and rural is also known as horse country! There are a number of riding schools in the area, perhaps the most well-known and versatile stables are at the Sleepy Hollow Farm. They have grown over the years and not only offer horse riding lessons, but also riding for the disabled, pony rides, bush trails and beach rides. Booking is essential and this can be done via their website. http://sleepyhollowhorseriding.com.
There’s no better way to experience Noordhoek Beach than from the back of a horse. Sleepy Hollow offer outrides three times a day.
Horses are well trained and rider friendly. The guides are experienced and helpful. After arriving at the farm 45 minutes before the departure time, you’ll have plenty of opportunity to be prepared for the ride. There is some paperwork to be done, followed by a brief safety talk. It’s also ensured that you have the correct equipment. The ride is 2 hours long, so you’ll have plenty of opportunity to get some exercise and enjoy the magnificent surroundings. Don’t’ expect to go galloping along the beach though. Table Mountain National Park authorities, under whose jurisdiction Noordhoek Beach lies have banned galloping on the beach. But, if you have the experience and are confident, the guide may allow you the opportunity for a little trot or canter. Inexperienced riders will be happy to stay at a walk.
The beach is picturesque and pristine. There is one major historic attraction which you will no doubt visit on your ride. In May 1900, during stormy weather, the Kakapo, a 665 ton, schooner-rigged steel steamship ran aground at full speed. She came to rest in deep sand. No lives were lost, no injuries suffered, but egos were certainly bruised. Despite many attempts, the salvagers of the day were unable to move her. Over the years she was stripped and today just a couple of boilers, rudders and ribs protrude out of the sand. She’s been there for 115 years.
The horses are familiar with the ocean and will not mind walking through shallow water. You’ll walk on the beach and through wetlands and have the opportunity to admire a variety of birdlife.
Sleepy Hollow Farm has had great reviews, but there are a number of other stables in the area, which also offer beach excursions.
Wear long pants, closed flat shoes or boots and remember to take sunblock.
It will be an outing to remember.