Hogsback – Magic and Mystery in the Mountains

Hogsback – Magic and Mystery in the Mountains

The magical little village of Hogsback in the Eastern Cape is set high up in the Amatola Mountains, surrounded by magnificent waterfalls flowing through deep indigenous forests.

This mystical little hamlet soothes the soul, restores the spirit and is the stuff of which fairytales are woven.  If you are looking for a weekend destination or an extended holiday stay, this is the place: and it’s just a short 117km drive from East London. Not many people know much about Hogsback, or even where it is, which is probably just as well, as one may want to preserve this delightful place with its magnificent views and sense of secrecy.

Hogsback resembles an English country village and is home to artists, poets, musicians and photographers, who have exchanged city life for the tranquility of the Hogsback.

The pure essence of this magical place was created by a skilled market gardener from Oxford, England. His influence can still be seen today, through the apple, cherry, pear, peach, almond, hazel nut and raspberry orchards which have spread throughout the area.

The effect is a beautiful garden like village surrounded by both Afromontane (meaning African mountain) and pine forests.

Seasonal changes in the area are spectacular and in winter the Hogsback is often very, very, cold with occasional snow – transforming the area into a white, winter wonderland. 

Autumn comes with a rich coating of orange, yellow and deep browns in various shades from dusty to dark. Spring is the time when the Hogsback is dressed in its best clothes, with flowers and lilies growing everywhere creating a profusion of colour.

Summer is the most unpredictable time of the year as it can be swelteringly hot, rainy, misty or icy cold. Mysteriously, just like England, you can have all four seasons in one day, each with their own particular charm and beauty which leaves one to say ‘there is a season for all times…..’.

Whatever your accommodation requirements, you need look no further – there are hotels, guest houses, B&B’s, self-catering chalets/cottages, backpacker accommodation and camping. The hotels, caravan parks and campsites all provide tennis, swimming and bowls.

If it’s mystical tales you are looking for then you have come to the right place as the Hogsback played a huge role in JR Tolkien’s books: The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein and although he, personally, never went to the Hogsback, his son was a regular visitor and sent him sketches and descriptions which enabled him to capture in words, the enchantment of the area. Thus he wrote of magical, unspoilt forests and of “a time when peace will rule the world”.

Hogsback is home to one of the world’s largest labyrinths with eleven circuits. Interestingly it is similar in design to the one at the Chartres Cathedral in France.

For many centuries the labyrinth has been used as a pathway to spiritual discovery and fulfilment and is used to enhance meditative states. It can be walked by anyone of any belief system.

The Hogsback offers the visitor a variety of things to do, such as the arts and crafts route, horse riding, beautiful gardens, bird watching, trout fishing, rock climbing, swimming, abseiling, mountain biking, horse riding and a 4×4 route through the indigenous forest.

One can also take a trip to a nearby game park to round off the day’s exploring. Visit the ecology shrine, follow marked hiking trails, meet local artists and crafts people or relax and rejuvenate in the capable hands of the various health therapists who practice their healing arts in the peaceful, countryside and enjoy the stunning sunsets, knowing there is more to see and do tomorrow …..

The Afromontane forest is home to several endangered species and is one of the last strongholds of the Cape parrot, of which there are only about 300 left in the wild. The Amatola toad and the Hogsback frog are both endemic to the area and all sorts of fungi and mushrooms add to this wondrous place.

A special event takes place in July when the sleepy little village of Hogsback comes to life with a European style Xmas weekend. It’s a weekend for the whole family to enjoy with lots of fun, festivities, bonhomie and of course the possibility if snow.

It easy to believe that faeries dwell in amongst these forests and that hobbits might pop out of the woods – this is the enchantment and the intrigue of the ‘other worldly’ Hogsback.

Hogsback – a place to wish upon when you want to step off the edge of the real world into the mists of folklore and wonder…

Denny McQueen

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