Hogsback: Magic in the Eastern Cape

Hogsback, a small village hidden under a canopy of Outeniqua yellowwood trees in the Amatola district of the Eastern Cape, wowed me for the first time in 2002.

I was barely human (17) and on a typical Rautenbach family vacation: a 106 km hiking trail that went on for 6 days over waterfalls, under waterfalls and semi-through waterfalls. The forest scenery enchanted us around every corner; we walked past grazing cows and made our way through thick mist that had the power to make a hiker – in a red poncho 3 meters in front of you – an invisible cloud of nothing. And, did I mention we saw waterfalls? Multiple falls; small ones, gushing ones, where-did-you-even-come-from ones. Every single day. We made daily fires to dry our soaked socks, shoes and shirts and slept in traditional huts where we plonked down on paper-thin mattresses with tiny red dots crawling all over it. My feet absolutely hated me on that trail and I had swollen sausages from toes to soles, while my legs mimicked a topographical map with crisscross bundu-bashing scars.

It is possibly the most enjoyable (and challenging) hike I’ve ever done. Tiny red dots crawling and all. 

But that was the last time I set foot in Hogsback, 15 years ago, when the trail ended in the village and we lingered on for a while after the hike.

When I worked out my January Eastern Cape road trip the name shouted loud and I just knew I had to visit again, even if it was only for a few days… so I booked my accommodation in Hogsback with Accommodation Direct and drove the short 60 km from Fort Beaufort (where I spent the previous night) to reach Hogsback and wondered all the way, “did it change much?”.

The village greeted me in a way only Hogsback knows how to greet; light rain, a forest chill, dancing mist, a few potholes and street side vendors selling clay pigs and walking sticks.

Hogsback 1

Everything was quiet.

The peak season was over and here and there travellers emerged from mud-covered cars.

Some restaurants were closed and only some galleries and sites were open as residents and staff took a breather after the crazy season.

It was perfect.

It was, as Hogsback is always described: simply magical.

At Bubuhle, my fairyland getaway, with its deep purple-blue Christmas flowers, I reminisced about the thing that I wondered about all the way on the road to Hogsback.

Hogsback 16

Did it change?

Can I even remember the village from 15 years ago?

In my head I pictured a place with modern day hippies in baggy Thai-elephant pants, a place where people lounge around in hammocks, and philosophise about life.

In my head I pictured a place where I would feel uncomfortable for not being earthy enough, a place where I thought I might not fit in because I don’t believe in fairies, a place that I thought would have changed over time.

But it didn’t.

According to me, nothing changed.

Hogsback 18

The atmosphere was welcoming, the serenity was perfect, and I was in the middle of it all, in front of a fireplace (with a fire I proudly built from scratch) and in the background the Louries “kokoko” the night closer.

It was perfect.

It was, as Hogsback is always described: simply magical.

A Few Things That Happened in Hogsback

Hogsback is a four-seasons-in-one-day kind of place and due to that, the quiet season and the fact that I practiced the art of relaxing, I only did things and visited places that I had time for.

Here are a few of my favourites:

A Quote Truer Than True

Hogsback 5

This was at Mirrors, Crystals and Photographs; the photographic studio of Ken Harvey.

A Long Labyrinth

Hogsback 10

I got quiet and walked the labyrinth at The Edge. It is hard to believe that an intricate space with a diameter of 29 meters and a circumference of 91 meters can make up a whole 1.4 km.

Hogsback’s Moss

Hogsback 3

I canoodled with Hogsback’s moss and then a photo followed.

Over the edge

Hogsback 2

I visited The Edge Mountain Retreat’s edge and the words of Mbeki came to mind:

“I am an African.
I owe my being to the hills and the valleys, the mountains and the glades, the rivers, the deserts, the trees, the flowers, the seas and the ever-changing seasons that define the face of our native land.”

Meeting Fairies

Some people say visiting the Fairy Realm is a waste of money while others say it’s worth it. I say, do it: the fairy garden owner is an artist who makes all the fairies by hand and they are strategically placed as you follow a footpath to discover all of them in different shapes, sizes and shades. The infrastructure of the garden is a work of art on its own.

Reptile Moments

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This guy was quite a model.

Butterfly Bistro’s Pizza

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This was one of the best pizzas I’ve ever tasted: lamb, mint and butternut (I also suck at food photography).

Jikani

I got a piece of art at Jikani. Jikani is a South African community-based development organisation for finding, creating, and growing jobs.

And then we said our Goodbyes…

Hogsback

“As a blanket of mist covers the known
it becomes unknown;
a new sight,
a new discovery, 
a new memory”.

It was perfect.

It was, as Hogsback is always described: simply magical.

Disclaimer: My stay at Bubuhle was sponsored by Accommodation Direct – all opinions expressed (as well as my good choice of accommodation) are my own.

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