Hogsback, Eastern Cape
Did you know?
Most of the older Hogsback gardens are inspired by the gardens of England.
Driving up into the dreamy winter mists of the Amathole Mountains from Alice towards the Eastern Cape village of Hogsback, you find yourself in another realm.
There are numerous theories as to why many people seem to connect South Africa-born author JRR Tolkien's fantasy world, Middle-earth (the setting of The Lord of the Rings and other works), with this little village deep in the Eastern Cape forests.
Some say his son was a British air force officer in these parts, and that he sketched scenes from Hogsback and sent them home to his father.
It doesn't really matter. Within an hour of arriving up here, you just know there have to be fairies, trolls, elves and wizards lurking about in these woods.
And when you go looking for lodgings, you come across charmingly named places called Arminel, Away with the Fairies, the Eco-Shrine, Camelot, Lothlorien, King's Lodge, Nutwoods, Misty Fell, Neverdaunted and Winding Down.
Like any enchanted forest, the walks are legendary. They vary from easy strolls to longer, more challenging adventures – all usefully graded.
It's the custom to buy a walking stick – a traveller's memento – from 1 of the crafters in the village.
When you visit the Eco-Shrine, greet the angels at the gate; walk the Labyrinth and the 400m garden meander called the Fairy Realm; look out for the rare Cape parrot; and feel the magic.
Hogsback was named, it is said, for the 3 ridges on the Amathole Mountains that resemble the outlines of a hog's back. These mountains are the spiritual domain of the Xhosa people, who call this area Qabimbola (red clay on the face), and in fact use the local clay for facial adornments.
And when the mountain mists clear, you're left with an astounding view of waterfalls, valleys and 1 of South Africa's most prized forest strongholds.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
The Hogsback Village Info Centre
Tel: +27 (0)45 962 1245
Tel: +27 (0)45 962 1136