The Old Wagon Road to the Forest

Popular Tourist Routes in or near Foreshore, City Bowl in Cape Town, South Africa.

Western Cape Tourist AttractionsThe Old Wagon Road to the Forest

Where? Main Road or the M4, start at the Foreshore. Start at the Castle all the way to Muizenberg.

Overnight? Accommodation in Foreshore, in Western Cape

Cape Town’s Main Road (M4) runs from the southern corner of the Castle, around Devil’s Peak and through the rowdy streets of Woodstock, Salt River, Observatory and Mowbray all the way to Muizenberg.

It was the first European-made road in the country known simply as: Die Ou Wagen Pad Na ‘T Bos (the old wagon road to the forest). And, as its name suggests, it originated because of the need for wood. As the demand for wood in the Cape increased, and timber close to hand dwindled, so the path of the road extended - around the landward slopes of Table Mountain and on, until it eventually reached False Bay at Muizenberg.

The road began soon after Jan Van Riebeeck landed at the coast, when forest stretched all the way down to the castle. Slowly it wound around Devil’s Peak (then known as Windberg, or wind mountain, for obvious reasons) through Rondebosch, Newlands, through Kirstenbosch forest and, eventually in 1687, it branched off from Muizenberg and headed all the way to the new winter harbour at Simon’s Town.

The M4 is long. Driving the full distance between the Castle and Muizenberg is probably the longest route, if the most direct, between the castle and the beach (most people use either the M5 or the M3 as alternative routes). Main Road’s architecture is a hodgepodge of historical eras - from Victorian to more commercial 1970 developments - but no less an exciting drive for that very reason.

Once past Groote Schuur the M4 travels through the heart of the southern suburbs of Cape Town - Newlands and Claremont - before entering the historical high street of Wynberg; today a colourful, busy and loud strip of road, with incredible views, between the run-down Victorian façades, of Muizenberg in the distance.

The M4 then heads through 1950s Plumstead, leafy Diepriver and then Retreat, before entering Lakeside, and finally Muizenberg.

Reference: Back Road of the Cape by David Fleminger

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