Eastern Cape, Hogsback Tourism
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Lying in the misty forests of the Eastern Cape Amatola Mountains, there's a quaint little village called Hogsback. Steeped in mystery, myth and folklore, and surrounded by centuries old indigenous forests, the natural beauty, pure mountain air, waterfalls and overwhelming quiet of Hogsback is said to have inspired J.R.R Tolkien to write his world-famous trilogy - The Lord of the Rings. It is also said that people who hear the 'magic call' gravitate to the Eastern Cape village of Hogsback, and those who come to stay in Hogsback include painters, potters, musicians and poets, who would rather savour the Eastern Cape Hogsback beauty than live in the rush of a big city. Known as the foremost Eastern Cape arts and crafts colony, a photographer’s dream and home to nature lovers, Hogsback attracts those who love to hike, mountain bike, bird watch, mountain climb and trout fish in the Eastern Cape, as well as couples who come for Hogsback Wedding Accommodation, in the midst of dreamy, enchanted forests rumoured to be home to fairies, trolls, elves and wizards.
About an hour and a half drive from the scholastic Eastern Cape town of Grahamstown, three mountain peaks which look like wild hogs come into view. These mountains are the spiritual domain of the Eastern Cape Xhosa people, who call this area 'Qabimbola' (after the red clay from the area they adorn their faces with), and after which Hogsback is named, likened to the hogs who run through the forest. Paths have been laid out through the forest marked with hogs of different colours, and while exploring, you may be lucky to hear the call of the Knysna Lourie /Loerie, see a troop of Samango monkeys, or catch a glimpse of the endangered Cape Parrots that nest in the Yellowwood trees.
Things to do and where to eat in Eastern Cape, Hogsback
Adding to Hogsback's allure is the Hogsback Labyrinth perched on 'The Bluff', which offers a spectacular view of the surrounding Eastern Cape mountains, a deep gorge with pristine untouched forests, and the villages nestling in the Eastern Cape Thuyme Valley below. The Hogsback Labyrinth is one of the biggest in the world - an eleven circuit Labyrinth with a diameter of 29 metres. Walking the Hogsback Labyrinth is said to be a spiritual experience, a place to pray and meditate, as well as a popular place where couples come together in marriage.
While still in a reverent mood, visit the Hogsback 'Voice of the Earth Eco Shrine' created by artist Diana Graham, who says she "felt impelled to make a place where art and nature, science and a sense of the sacred come together". This unique outdoor garden is decorated with mosaics, sculptures and oil paintings, and offers breathtaking views of the Eastern Cape mountains, waterfalls and valleys.
Explore the Hogsback Camelot Fairy Meander - a 400m garden pathway adorned with captivating sculptures of fairies and gnomes, flowers and ponds. Nearby stands the Big Tree, an ancient 2000 year old yellowwood tree called the Eastern Monarch, the biggest tree in the Eastern Cape that stands more than 36m high.
For an experience of a lifetime, Hogsback Amathole Horse Trails offer you 'a ride on the paths less travelled through the beautiful Amathole Mountains and Hogsback forests', where you can swim with the horses in a local dam, then picnic on the Eastern Cape mountains.
For the more energetic, hike up Gaika's Kop (1700m), from which you have a panoramic view of the Eastern Cape Elandsberg Mountains, and on a clear day even the coastline, some 120 km away, is visible.
Take home a piece of magic when you visit Hogsback Crystal Corner, where you can choose from a range of crystals, beautiful gemstone jewellery and Chakra stones.
It's also customary to buy a walking stick from one of the crafters in Hogsback village, a traveller's memento of their time in this unforgettable part of the Eastern Cape.
Take the Hogsback Plaatjieskraal Arts & Crafts Trail, which will take you to Starways Pottery & Gallery, where you can enjoy a cup of mint tea. Then on to Mafika Pottery and Wrought & Rustic where intriguing metalwork arts are made. Whilst at the Somerset Gardens & Art Gallery, grab a bite to eat, or you can save your appetite for the Butterfly's Bistro, where you can sit and eat under large oak trees in a big, tranquil garden. On colder days you can warm yourself by a ceramic wood-burning fireplace, and enjoy delicious pizzas, pastas and sweet temptations.
On the first Saturday of the month the popular Hogsback Farmers Market takes place just outside the Butterfly Bistro. On the grass under the trees you will find many stalls selling delightful home cooked fare, dairy products and breads.
For something different, try the Hogsback Happy Hogs Pub & Restaurant, where according to a patron, "the pub rocks, and the lamb curry and full monty breakfast is just great!!".
Eastern Cape Hogsback Annual Events
Hogsback Country Xmas in July offers locals and visitors to the Eastern Cape the opportunity to enjoy laid back family entertainment in the form of art, music, sport, and of course - food.
Hogsback Arts Spring Festival in September
The Hogsback Garden Club invites you to celebrate spring in the Eastern Cape by visiting the most exquisite gardens brimming with azaleas and irises under the shade of Japanese Cherry, Maple, Tulip and Dogwood trees.
When looking for Eastern Cape Hogsback Accommodation, Maylodge Country Cottages (Hogsback Self Catering Cottage Accommodation) asks that you come and spoil yourself, and promises "a garden forever in bloom filled with magical, exciting discoveries". This Hogsback Self Catering Cottage Accommodation is also wheelchair friendly accommodation.
Huddled in a fold of the Eastern Cape Amathole Mountains, Hogsback is an unexpected treasure, a very special place where you can leave behind the mundane and embrace the divine.
Guests Visit to Hogsback
Arrived in Hogsback, a delightful town in the Eastern Cape (via Queenstown), and it's everything they said it would be.
Although the main tar road from Hogsback to East London is spectacular, we chose to take a "backroad" to Hogsback from Queenstown in order to create a short-cut. We spent quite some time on a 50km rough dirt road, but the scenery was great (we even saw some goats sleeping whilst their companions actually stood on top of them - weird hey?)
I think that the average speed over this road was about 40km per hour.
There were also some little farm chapels along this road which has attracted much interest for tourism in the Hogsback area.
When we hit the town of Hogsback, we were bowled over. Guest houses and bed and breakfasts in Hogsback are plentiful. I suppose that Hogsback self catering accommodation is also pretty populer for countryside holiday making.
Unfortunately Hogsback accommodation was not on the cards for us because we only stopped over for a light meal at a very quaint Hogsback Hotel; which was also one of quite a few Hogsback hotels.
Time was very limited and we had little opportunity to explore the little Hogsback art studios / galleries, curio shops and restaurants. Hogsback needs at least a 2 or 3 day stop-over, and almost resembles the same holiday experience as the quaint towns of Clarens in the Freestate, and Dullstroom in Mpumalanga.
Wedding accommodation in Hogsback is booming, and they tell me that Guest House and bed and breakfast accommodation in Hogsback is so popular because of the weddings, that any Hogsback accommodation should be booked WAY in advance.
The town of Hogsback is set at the top and along the slopes of a mountain side (I guess it's the Hogsback Mountain?), and lends itself to a fantastic winding, down run to East London.......wow, what views, and what a great road.
Cheers Hogsback.....we'll be back for a longer visit in the future and to check out the great opportunities of Hogsback accommodation.
East London, here we come.
Carlo and Ren