Anyone who has ever encountered this blog will know that road-tripping is my happy place. I love the feeling of getting away and leaving everything behind, the end destination hours if not days away. No worries, no responsibilities, no deadlines. Last year I road tripped five or six times, and this year looks to be no different.
During the Easter break, the Wild Child and I left the cat with a sitter and stole off into the night, with just a backpack and a handful of books for entertainment. Our destination, as always, was the Eastern Cape. Only this time we decided to drift away from the coast and aim for the mountains – specifically, Hogsback.
The drive is decidedly different, and longer. On our previous road trips to Jeffrey’s Bay, the landscape was characterised by lush forests, giant wind turbines, and crashing waves. Head inland and you’re more likely to encounter a herd of goats in the road. Or cattle. Or donkeys.
Hogsback is a little village tucked away in the Amathole Mountains. A colleague described it to me as “fairyland” and it really is. The village is perched on top of a breathtaking mountain valley and is encircled on all sides by forests, waterfalls and jaw-dropping views.
We arrived on the cusp of Autumn and were greeted by an astonishing display of colour – gold, red, green and plum. Another surprise was seeing troops of wild monkeys darting through the trees. Naturally, one of the first things we did on arrival was to go for a long walk through the forest.
There are some great hiking trails in the area and several waterfalls. For our walk, we wound our way through the Arboretum to the 39 Steps Falls, stopping to admire the seemingly hundred different varieties of mushrooms along the path.
Our accommodation wasn’t as amazing as the scenery. Imagine if the Bates Motel was located in Twin Peaks, with a little bit of The Shining thrown in. But in a weird way, it worked. Hogsback is such a strange little town and our rented rooms were straight out of an X-Files episode.
The strangeness is echoed in the attractions – crystal shops that make you dizzy with incense, peaceful garden labyrinths and a bathtub perched on top of a plunging cliff to name a few points of interest. But if your end destination is Hogsback, the main attraction has to be the forests, the views, and the incredible stillness. It’s a stunning part of the world, especially at night when all you can see are the stars above.
My favourite local gem was the restaurant at The Edge. The food was dependably delicious and it’s a great spot for a gin cocktail at sunset. A quick shortcut through the garden takes you to a spectacular viewing spot. Standing on the edge of the cliff, all you can see around you are endless unspoiled forests, with the occasional bark of a baboon breaking the silence.
See for yourself below.
If you ever see me in a café or a bookstore, I’ll tell you about my encounter with some very interesting local characters. That story requires a lot more than a blog post, let me tell you.