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NNamed after the three distant ridges of the Amathole range of mountains that resemble the back outlines of running wild pigs, the little town of Hogsback has become an arts and crafts colony, a photographer’s preferred location, a nature lover’s haunt and a honeymoon couple’s top choice of romantic hideaways in the Eastern Cape.
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 African-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.
SSome 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.
Hogsback, Eastern Cape
IIt doesn't really matter. Within an hour of arriving here, you just know there has 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 like Arminel, Away with the Fairies, the Eco-Shrine, Camelot, Lothlorien, King's Lodge and Nutwoods.
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 one of the crafters in the village.
WWhen 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 three 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 (after the red clay from the area they adorn their faces with).
And when the mountain mists clear, you're left with an astounding view of waterfalls, valleys and one of South Africa's most prized forest strongholds.
South African Tourism - Heritage Day
Feast your eyes, feed your soul and be inspired by South Africa in full bloom… South Africa is unique. It is one country in the world where one can weave a vibrant tapestry of culture and heritage from the many and varied attractions, experiences and influences that permeate daily living.
Flowering aloes in South Africa: see hills aflame with orange and crimson flowers in Eastern Cape and other arid areas
Aloe ferox – the red or bitter aloe – grows all over South Africa, but Eastern Cape hills are ablaze with orange and red from May to August; the province also produces great aloe health products.
Rock climbing in South Africa: some of our cliffs are tough; others are a little boulder
Rock climbers are spoilt for choice in South Africa – Western Cape, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Eastern Cape are all provinces blessed with plentiful mountains and myriad climbing routes.
Grassland wildflowers: catch the early and late bloomers around the Drakensberg
South Africa’s grassland wildflowers, especially around the Drakensberg, put on a floral show to rival Namaqualand in spring, or Western Cape’s fynbos – and even better, it lasts through summer.
Willowmore to Graaff-Reinet – the Camdeboo route
Drive the scenic Camdeboo route in the Eastern Cape Karoo and experience the small-town charm of Willowmore, Rietbron, Aberdeen and Graaff-Reinet.
South Africa’s historical attractions
South Africa’s rich history, going back 3-million years, that makes its historic attractions unique. You can explore past civilisations; visit battlefields, museums, monuments and memorials; relive the early gold rush and diamond mining days; and follow the long walk to freedom of Nelson Mandela. More than 300 historical museums are spread across the country, from the smallest towns to the largest cities, and cover everything from the emergence of humankind and the freedom struggle, to winemaking and transport.
South African forest conservation
Forest conservation safeguards fascinating plants. The blackwitch hazel, for example, is a natural air conditioner. Then there's the malleblaar (crazy leaf), which has some sweet leaves and other bitter leaves. It confuses the animals that eat it, and they leave the tree alone. Conversation protects the Outeniqua yellowwood (its leaves, with their bitter tannin, stain the local rivers a dark tea colour). But while the evergreen coastal forests that you find in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal are the flagships for South African forest conservation, there are also the fever tree forests in northern KwaZulu-Natal, the Modjadji Cycad Forest, the quiver tree forests of the Northern Cape and more.
Two Week South African Road Trip Itinerary
Road trip itinerary starting in Johannesburg and going through Sani Pass, Coffee Bay, Hogsback, Jeffrey’s Bay, Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Sedgefield and Graaf-Reinet
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