The road had several turns and bends, taking you higher and higher. With each turn you think: this is it, we’re there, but then you go around another bend and finally, finally, you are there.
You might think you are in the middle of nowhere, or, if it is a misty day as so often happens, in a magical village.
Others may want to tell you, this was the inspiration for Tolkien’s The Hobbit, but apparently it isn’t the truth, but nobody will blame you. It looks so magical that you will think that you are lost in a fairy world. It is, therefore, no wonder that there are so many places with a fairy in its name. And that is why I wanted to go there. I wanted to get lost in the forest and find my true self again and hopefully a fairy or two.
This is Hogsback, a quaint village high in the Amatola Mountains in the Eastern Cape with its dramatic views and indigenous forest.
But what do you do in Hogsback if you only have one afternoon? That is, apart from eating and drinking. Even for a small village, there are plenty of opportunities for that.
THE BUTTERFLY BISTRO
Our first stop was at The Butterflies Bistro, a vegan restaurant and pub in the heart of town. Others have told me that during season butterflies serve you, but as we were there out of season with not many punters around, we had to do with our friendly waitress. We had time to admire the shop and garden and sample their pink gin on tap. https://www.facebook.com/Butterflys-Bistro-201004053304815/
AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES
So, hunting for the fairies, we took the opportunity to visit Away with the Faeries and its world-famous bath perched right on the edge of a cliff. Can you imagine what experience it will be to have a bath with an incredible view of the forest and the 3 Hogsback Mountains? According to the owners, they light a traditional donkey boiler in the morning, and it is up to the guests to keep the fire going so the next guests can also have a hot bath. You can book a 30-minute slot at reception. Please check out their website for times and the rules applying. But the best news is: it is free!
THE CHOCOLATE SHOP
After lunch, we need a sweet, didn’t we? The handcrafted chocolates at The Chocolate Shop almost looked too beautiful to eat. I don’t even apologise. My resistance is low and had to try one or two. Or three...
Oh, and then, the forest, the main reason for our visit (or mine, anyway). Unfortunately, during my first visit in September 2019, a severe drought held the Eastern Cape in its grip and the waterfalls were mostly dry. The Arboretum was still beautiful and provided plenty of opportunities to take photographs.
We went a second time in middle March, and the 39 Steps Waterfall was in full flow. What a sight! And again, I got plenty of opportunities to take other photographs. There were so many more I would’ve liked to have taken, but with only one afternoon, time was limited. I already spent so much time in the Arboretum that there was not much time for anything else.
What else is there to do you may ask? Plenty! We still wanted to explore the Chartres design Labyrinth at The Edge, but both times the next morning was cold and miserable, and apparently, our little car wouldn’t have fared well on the road there. (Check the weather before you go but always make sure that you have something warm and to keep you dry. You may never know when you may need it because it might not rain, but it could be misty.) http://theedge-hogsback.co.za/
Diana Graham also created an Eco-Shrine for Art and Ecology which we wanted to visit but didn’t have time for. (http://www.ecoshrine.co.za/).
Then, there are, of course, several hiking trails – some more strenuous than others, fishing and horseriding if you feel so inclined. Check out Hogsback website for more details.
For me, though, the forests were my main reason for visiting.
The nearest town to Hogsback is Alice with a selection of shops, supermarkets and banks with ATMs including FNB and ABSA located in the Kwantu Shopping Centre near the BP Petrol Station. The nearest major cities to Hogsback with airports are East London and Port Elizabeth.
Visitors’ Information Centre
Tel: +27(0)83 458 3414
Mark: +27(0)82 440 9209
There is a large variety of accommodation available, ranging from Hotels, Guest Houses, Self-Catering to Backpacking and Camping.
We’ve chosen the self-serviced cottages of the Arminel Hotel for both visits. The accommodation was beautiful and clean, but it was the gardens and the forest that stole my heart. For our second visit in March, we’ve chosen Cottage 1, which was right next to the woods and I could browse to my heart’s content. My one stipulation for going back would be that it shouldn’t fall during the holidays or over a weekend to avoid rowdy drinking parties.
How to get there
The following coordinates may be used for finding or getting to Hogsback using a GPS system. Latitude: -32.5833 or 32° 34' 60S (South)
Longitude: 26.9500 or 26° 56' 60E (East)
Airport shuttle transfers are available from East London Airport to the Hogsback Mountains if you are flying to East London Airport. For details, check the Hogsback website.
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