We started out on our road trip from Cape Town driving along the coast. With music, plenty of snacks, an ocean view and sunshine streaming in through the open windows it was a promising start. Fast forward 11 hours and we’ve turned inland and been driving through miles of dry and dusty landscape. Passing small rural villages, driving along windy roads alongside cars pulling trailers precariously loaded with cattle, cows and goats wandering the roads in abundance and getting dangerously low on snacks. It’s safe to say by the time we were driving along an endless mountain pass we were reaching the limits of our patience. Fast forward another hour, driving along a road that winds upwards and all of a sudden the dry dusty landscape has turned into lush forest with the deafening sounds of birds and insects. After 12 hours driving it seemed we’d arrived in paradise.
Hogsback is a small village high up in the Amatola Mountains in the Eastern Cape, surrounded by indigenous forest, waterfalls, rivers and the nearby ‘hogsback’ like mountain peaks from where it gets its name. Already seems magical right? Legend has it that JRR Tolkien thought so too and that Hogsback was the inspiration for The Lord of the Rings. As such the ‘magical’ aspect has really been embraced. The backpackers we stayed at was called ‘Away with the Fairies’, and although we camped they had several huts and other accommodation entitled ‘Gandalf’s Cottage’ and similar. The best thing about Hogsback? They say that if you look hard enough, you’ll see fairies.
We spent the first day hiking through the forest, and visiting the waterfalls. It was an amazing experience to be fighting through dense undergrowth that reaches to above your ahead to then burst out onto a magical waterfall/ stream. (In which of course we couldn’t help but take a dip!)
The Madonna and Child was the last waterfall we came across, and after hiking for a few hours it was absolute bliss and an unforgettable experience to stand underneath it. After a few minutes some of the local boys came down to splash around too and get some relief from the hot weather.
Returning to the backpackers after the long hike back it was tempting to make use of one of their unique facilities… a bath with a view!
The next day we explored the village and met some of the people who have made Hogsback their home. It’s crammed with cafes and craft shops and everywhere has a very magical/ hippy vibe.
Of course, being in the middle of the forest, we met some other creatures too.
Even sharing our campsite with them!
Despite the unwelcome visitor in our tent, it was an amazing experience, and on our last night, what better to do in such a magical place than sit out under the stars?