With its cool Oceanic Climate, the idyllic village of Hogsback, set in the mountains of the Eastern Cape, draws many South Africans to its fairy-tale like forests that might have inspired J.R.R. Tolkien. Popular among backpackers for its affordable stays immersed in nature, clean air, and wonderful patches of indigenous forest, Hogsback has developed into an artistic community and attracted settlers from all over. The best way of exploring Hogsback is hiking its many trails through the majestic Yellowwood trees, home to the endangered Cape Parrots. Or to take a bit of height and take the real measure of its most emblematic waterfalls by abseiling them!
Venturing on the trails gives an immediate idea of the verticality of the terrain. Slabs of rocks have to be slid down to follow the shrieks of the endemic Cape Parrots. Nesting in the cavities of the trunks of Yellowwood trees, the most endangered parrot of Africa is very vulnerable: both its favourite habitat and food [the nut of the Yellowwood] are disappearing fast. With hardly 1,600 specimens left in the world, they are easy to hear, but spotting the bright green Cape Parrot in the forest is another story! Still, the quest remains a beautiful experience, especially as waterfalls pops up behind trees. One of the most emblematic cascades is the 35-metre high Madonna and Child.
To really take in the height of the waterfall, the view from its top, hanging to a rope is second to none! The mountains of the Amathole Range resemble the back of a hog on one side, and give the village of Hogsback its name. On the other side, the green forest ends in the Tuyme Valley that is slowly getting out of the clouds. Under my feet, water is falling by 35 metres along a rather slippery cliff wall… The adrenalin rush makes me take in this scenery and moment more deeply as I lower myself into my harness and I shuffle my weight onto the bright blue and red rock-climbing rope. Spreading my legs, I touch the wall softly with the tip of my feet, keeping the balance while controlling my descending speed. I soon reach the top of the trees and disappear in Hogsback’s beautiful green coat half hidden in the mist…
If contrary to the legend, Tolkien never visited Hogsback, it is admitted that the famous South African writer got inspired by the stories he heard about its stunning forest. There is definitely a bit of Middle Earth around, and maybe a few Hobbits are helping preserving the precious Cape Parrots in the forest…
Claire & Marcella
- To live this adventure please refer to Hogsback Adventures.
- For more info about the Cape Parrot, refer to the Cape Parrot Project.
- There are many guest houses in Hogsback to choose from. If you like to stay in a quiet cottage with a large garden, filled with birds (among which the beautiful Knysna Turacos) and lots of privacy, make sure to reach out to the Nibelheim Cottage.
- If you are into birding, Graham Russell, the owner of Nibelheim cottage offers bird watching outings.
- Check out this interactive map for the specific details to help you plan your trip and more articles and photos (zoom out) about the area! Here is a short tutorial to download it.
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