Apart from offering visitors an exciting and novel method of travel, taking the Flying Dutchman funicular saves visitors an uphill walk from the car park to see the old lighthouse and enjoy the panoramic views.
The Flying Dutchman Funicular, also known as the Cape Point Funicular, is a funicular railway located at Cape Point. It is believed to be the only commercial funicular of its type in Africa, and takes its name from the local legend of the Flying Dutchman ghost ship.
The line runs from a lower station at the Cape Point car park, up an incline through dense fynbos to the upper lighthouse. The funicular leaves from the lower station every three minutes, comfortably accommodates 40 passengers per car, and can transport 450 persons to the upper lighthouse per hour, making it the ideal way to whisk closer to the lighthouse even during peak times.
Legend of the Flying Dutchman
The ghostly galleon known as the Flying Dutchman has been immortalised by mariners’ accounts and by a number of sightings over the past three-and-a-half centuries. As legend has it, the Flying Dutchman was captained by a Dutchman, Hendrik van der Decken, and was headed home from Batavia (now Jakarta) to Holland in 1641. As Van der Decken approached the Cape, typically stormy weather shredded the ship’s sails and waves flooded the deck. The captain had rounded Cape Point on several occasions previously, but this time, a terrified crew implored him to turn back. He refused to submit to the elements and lashed himself to the wheel, swearing that he would sail around Cape Point, even if it took him until Doomsday.
One version of the story goes that an angel appeared on the deck and the enraged captain drew his pistol and shot her. Van der Decken’s wish to round the point was granted that night, but he and his crew were doomed to sail these waters for ever more. Over the past three-and-a-half centuries a ghostly sailing ship, that glows red in the night and has a mad, bald captain, has been sighted by a number of mariners. Those who have seen her say she lets down row-boats that approach with ghostly men aboard, desperately seeking a Good Samaritan to take their letters back home, where they haven’t been for more than 300 years. But those who entertain these approaches are doomed…
- Length of track: 585 metres
- Height: 87 metres
- Maximum Steepness: 16%
- Cars: 2
- Capacity: 40 passengers per car; 450 persons per hour
- Configuration: Single track with passing loop
- Travel time: 3 minutes each way
- Traction: Electricity
“It’s an absolutely must to visit while you’re in Cape Town. It’s a 5 minutes drive from the entrance where you pay a fee to get in, there’s a funicular railway, also with a fee to take us up to the lighthouse for a breathtaking view of South Atlantic Ocean! We have to climb some stairs to get to the highest top and we stopped at different level to catch the scenic views which left us breathless! The scene was worth all the effort of climbing. Best time to go is at sunrise or sunset. Highly recommended!”
“We absolutely love whale watching from the Point and also from the Two Oceans Restaurant. You stand high up on the cliffs on the tip of Africa, what a sight to behold. There is also a funicular railway to take one right up to the top, be sure to go up there too. On the drive to the the Point, once you have gone through the National Parks entry point you can also start looking for wildlife. This is a really fun excursion. Even though it is quite a distance from Cape Town there is so much to see along the way!”
FROM THE CAPE POINT BLOG
We’ve put together a series of 12 podcasts to bring the myths, legends and true stories of Cape Point to you, wherever you are. Listen to the Cape of Horns episode below: […]
Cape of Horns
Bontebok of the Cape Point
Near extinction of bontebok in South Africa
Bontebok were once so numerous in the Cape that the first colonists considered them to be pests. The wanton slaughter of the animals eventually decimated the population. By the mid-1920s, there were less than 20 bontebok in the Cape. […]