ROAD TRIPPING: 48 HOURS IN HOGSBACK
Monday, 20th August 2018
Hogsback in the Eastern Cape is a place of green, where forest canopies embrace your visit and waterfalls loudly plummet into your itinerary. It is a place where Samango monkeys, Knysna Loeries and Cape parrots play hide and seek, where morning mist, moss carpets and moonshine find a home. It is filled with wonder and wows, and can only be described as simply magnificent, mythical and magical. Let’s go explore, shall we?
Photo: Anje Rautenbach
Start your day bright and early and travel in the direction of Bedford, where you can stop for breakfast, grab a coffee and stretch your legs. The Apprentice Deli is your answer for a good brew and a hearty breakfast, and you can stock up on some homemade padkos treats. Eagle Hout Padstal is a family-friendly restaurant where you can not only eat, but also find a magnificent kitchen garden in addition to recycling and upcycling inspiration, and shop for handmade wooden furniture.
Stop at Spar in Bedford or Fort Beaufort for food items if you’re planning on cooking your own food; there is a shop in Hogsback selling only the basics.
FIRST THINGS FIRST, FIND A HOME
The accommodation in Hogsback ranges from basic backpacker dormitories to hotels to camp sites to spots hidden under in the forest. Find a place that speaks to you, there are plenty of self-catering accommodation options if you prefer staying in rather than going out, and, if you are visiting in winter something with a fireplace is always a warm welcome and bonus.
LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW, LET IT SNOW
Home to the annual Winter Festival, Hogsback is no stranger to snow, be it a light dusting or a heavy downpour creating a winter wonderland. It adds to the magic of Hogsback, and visitors happily cancel their plans and to-do list to experience the snow, wrap their hands around a cup of warm hot chocolate and build a snowman or two. Many South Africans actively watch the weather report in winter for their chance to head out to Hogsback to enjoy the snow. Just remember to take caution when driving.
WALK WITH FAIRIES
Tap into the magic of the Afromontane forest and be one with the fairies. The Fairy Realm is a 500m walk, lined with fairies, strategically placed as you follow a footpath to discover them as you walk – and inspirational quotes - in different shapes, sizes and shades. The infrastructure of the garden is a work of art on its own.
CLEAR YOUR MIND
Quiet your mind and walk the eleven-circuit labyrinth, similar in design to the labyrinth in the Chartres Cathedral in France, at The Edge. As one of the biggest labyrinths in the world, it has a diameter of 29m and a circumference of 91m walking from the start to the centre and back to the start is a whole 1.4km. While at The Edge, don’t forget to walk to the view point for a truly magnificent view!
Visit the outdoor garden shrine – Eco-Shrine - of Diana Graham which pays homage to earth through a series of sculptures and paintings. The garden, constructed in 1995 and overlooking the Hogsback Mountains and Tyume Valley, has won several awards such as the Green Dove Award from the United States, a Mail and Guardian Green Trust Award, and an Eastern Cape Premier's Award.
Hogsback is not a place that kicks you out of bed before sunrise and keeps you up until late at night; instead it is a place where you walk, talk, see and experience but also make time to just enjoy the forest’s silence, sit with your feet up and get cozy on a couch in front of a fireplace. Make time during your visit to do simply nothing.
For a village as small as Hogsback there are certainly a few restaurants to choose from such as the Butterfly Bistro (don’t miss out on their pizza), The Edge, Happy Hogs and The Lighthouse - a variety of foodie treats to be enjoyed!
TAKE A HIKE
Whether you are an avid hiker or not, put on your hiking boots and surround yourself with nature. There are numerous walks to choose from, ranging from a walk in a park to something a bit more strenuous. If the weather plays along, make sure your visit includes a walk to a waterfall like the Madonna and Child Falls or the Kettlespout Falls. There is also a walking-writing-walk led by poet, Silke Heiss, called Hiku Hikes. Ask your accommodation hosts for guidance and details; if you are up for something a bit longer there is the Zingcuka Loop (2 days, 1 night) that forms part of the Amatola Hiking Trail (6 days). Keep an eye out for the shy Cape parrot and see if you can spot the smallest toad in the world, the critically endangered Amatola toad.
If hiking is not enough, you can also hire bicycles, go horseriding, abseiling, join the Parkrun or make a trip to Katberg Eco Golf Estate & Hotel and enjoy the 18-hole championship golf course.
DON'T LEAVE WITHOUT SOUVENIRS
On the main street of Hogsback, you’ll encounter people selling clay Hogsback pigs and walking sticks. Buy a souvenir and support a local. Visit the Crystal Corner for all your crystal needs, big or small, they sell it all; there is also the Circles of Light Labyrinth and a Wishing Tree. You can view the photographs of Ken Harvey in his gallery and stop by the second hand shop, Jikani, which is also an outlet for local crafters, and. If you have a sweet tooth go to The Chocolate Shoppe for fine Belgian chocolate and confectionary.
HEAD BACK HOME
Take a different route home and travel via the city of saints, Grahamstown, and see how many churches you can spot before you make one last coffee stop.
Find out more www.ectour.org.za/amathole_mountain_escape