The bath at the end of the world

Time tends to stand still in Hogsback but the days keep passing by and that is why after nearly ten days i am still here trying to capture the photo that hints at the spectacular and find the turn of phrase that delivers the experience the Going Homeless Project had in this little gem in the Eastern Cape.

Way above the village

I arrived after dark, so I was unaware of where I was and what Hogsback held for me the in the morning. After an impromptu and rather unexpected party at the Away with the Fairies Bar – the Wizards Sleeve, involving a lot of short drinks I crashed out amped to see what the morning light would reveal. From my bed the view spanned the mountains affectionately known as the hogs. Not a bad start at all.

Away with the Fairies

Whiling away your time on the comfy couch at Away with the Fairies (The properties name on the title-deed is, I shit you not, BagEnd.) is no crime, the view from the lounge in the main house in front of a smoldering stone fire-place is well nay on perfect, and with a couple of days of rain, being lazy, reading and shooting the shit was a good welcome to a swell place to stay.

Comfy rooms that come in small and large dorms, doubles and en-suites. Fire places that burn all the time make for a cosy stay. Views everywhere, including one from a bath at the end of the world.

the bath at the end of the world

An in-house bar, epic breakfasts, sumptuous dinners or smash one of their killer pizzas if you’re to lazy to hit the kitchen and cook for yourself will keep you fed and nourished for the busy days you will no doubt have in Hogsback.

You can walk from Away with the Fairies into the forests which have a variety of hikes centered around waterfalls, some are no more than a stroll, others a little more challenging. All are worth visiting.

39 steps

The easiest, 39 Steps, is a beaut and a good place to start, then head to KettleSpout – you get an incredible panoramic view of the whole area from this waterfall.

Madonna and child is a short and heavy breather, but absolutely amazing, look out for the etchings carved in to the rock below the falls.

Madonna & Child

When you visit Swallow Falls, another great walk with a view, be sure to visit the Big Tree, an 800 year old Yellowwood that is quite frankly a privilege to stand next to.

Eons …

When you’re looking for something a little less physical head up the bluff and pay a visit to the Eco Shrine, built by Eco artist Diana Graham, the thought put it into, the artworks, layout and the tour leaves you thinking about the path humans have taken to arrive at our pending ecological apocalypse.

the eco-shrine … enlightenment

Next up was the labyrinth … a place to get answers, if truth be told I felt more lost at the end of it as all the turns kept me going back on my thoughts but nonetheless something to experience and I guess clarity for most. It is well worth a visit.

Labyrinth

We also dropped by the local potter whose studio is built with a zero carbon footprint and it’s a pretty amazing technique, as was the pottery.

Still life at the pottery

Also take a turn past the Fairy Sanctuary, and wander the paths to see some pretty sweet sculptures of you guessed it … Fairies. It’s a great little place to visit.

Who me …

Having seen most of the falls by foot, I set off with Neels of Cycle Roots for a guided bike tour that takes you to all the falls plus a few hidden spots, that you can’t really reach by foot. The ride is pretty mellow but has some killer down hill single track moments that will give you some thrills to go with the beautiful scenery you bike through.

The Hog

Included is a visit to the top of Madonna and Child, ThumI Falls and Robertson Falls and as I mentioned previously the local knowledge fills in so much more than guide book or a website. Definitely hit Neels up for a tour, its a great way to spend one of your mornings in Hogsback.

Swallows …

So after ten days of a place I think most spend two or three, i still don’t really want to leave. Chilling at Away with the Fairies, a village that is stuck in time, a view that sucks you in and doesn’t let you go makes visiting Hogsback not really optional.

Deeply in love …

Its pretty simple really, if you skip Hogsback when you visit South Africa, you have done yourself a massive disservice.

Thanks to Gemma and Candy at Away with the Fairies, Neels of Cycle Roots and Hi Hostels for a killer stay in Hogsback.

Away with the Fairies

Experience the inspiration behind J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit,” and visit South Africa’s very own mystical fairytale land. This perfectly located and very relaxed backpackers commands a stunning view of the Hogsback mountains, part of the Amatola range in South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. It’s an ideal place to kick back and relax, or wander through the forest to the nearby waterfalls with beautiful hiking trails starting in the back garden.

URL: www.awaywiththefairies.co.za

Cycle Roots

Contact Neels on 073 567 9487 or book at the Backpackers

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