About the area
Situated high in the Amathole Mountains and surrounded by century-old forests, the area is a nature lover's paradise.
Hiking is on top of most visitors’ lists, especially hikes to the three flat-topped Hogsback mountains known as “Three Hogs” or the Gaika’s Kop mountains. These trails through the indigenous forests and beside beautiful waterfalls can also be tackled on mountain bike or horseback.
Waterfalls in the area include the well-known Madonna and Child, the 39 Steps Falls, Swallow Tail Falls, the Bridal Veil Falls and the Kettlespout Falls.
Apart from the amazing natural water features, the area is known for another tourist attraction: its magnificent gardens. These gardens feature exotic plants from as far afield as Europe and the Himalayas, and are known to attract gardening tour groups from around South Africa. With large homes scattered throughout the forest landscape, residents say that Hogsback is a magical place to live.
The earliest known written reference to Hogsback was found in the journal of the painter Thomas Baines, who passed the “Hogs Back” while on his travels through South Africa in 1848.
The beautiful forest surrounds have inspired many artworks which can be seen in local shops and accommodations. Hogsback has even been linked to JRR Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings due to the similarities found between the Amathole forest and the fictional forest of Mirkwood.
There are a few theories regarding how Hogsback got its name. One theory suggests the area was named for Captain Hogg, Commander of Fort Michell, while another proclaims it is because of the three peaks that overlook the village (when seen from a certain angle) resemble a hog’s back. The nearby Xhosa tribes called the surrounding area Qabimbola which means “red clay on the face” as the surrounding clay was used for face painting.
There is something magical about Hogsback – I don’t know if it’s the mountains or the trees, but something always draws you back.
Busi Booi, resident
Things to do:
- Amathole Horse Trails: take a trip through the Amathole Mountains and Hogsback forests on friendly, well-trained and easy to ride horses.
- Applegarth Gardens and Nursery: take a guided tour with owners who will point out indigenous and exotic plants and trees.
- Hiku Hikes: poets Norman Morrissey and Silke Heiss offer walking and writing workshops.
- Hogsback Adventures: try abseiling, guided hikes or bike trails.
Best in food:
- Butterfly’s Bistro: a tranquil restaurant situated in a big garden under the shade of a large oak tree
- Happy Hogs Restaurant & Bar: country style restaurant, village pub and patio beer garden.
- Restaurant at The Edge: cosy, informal restaurant in the garden at The Edge.
Top schools nearby:
- Crab Bush Primary School
- Plaatjieskraal Primary School
Medical facilities nearby:
- SS Gida Hospital, Keiskammahoek
- Victoria Hospital, Alice
This article originally appeared in Neighbourhood, Sunday Times.