Hogsback is famous for its forests, waterfalls and mountains.
Hogsback is a village on the Amatola Mountain Range that overlooks the Hogsback Mountains. You will find Away with the Fairies located at the lowest part of Hogsback, at an altitude of 1200m. Gaikas Kop is the highest point in the area, at 1963m.
Away with the Fairies, overlooking The Auckland Nature Reserve.
The Auckland Nature reserve is the oldest forest in South Africa and is one of only 2 grade 1 indigenous forests in South Africa. The reserve is also pristine and has huge trees, such as Yellowwood, Iron Wood, Stink Wood and many, many others. As a result of this pristine environment, extremely rare species such as the Cape Parrot , Knysna Lourie and Samango Monkeys are still flourishing here.
Flora and Fauna is abundant.
There are species of bamboo and butterfly which are only found on Hogsback’s mountains. All sorts of fungi and mushrooms add to the magical feeling. The presence of delicate mosses and Old Man’s Beard indicates extremely pure air, as only a small amount of pollution will kill them.
Waterfalls are prolific
The Amatola Mountains boast more waterfalls per square km than anywhere else on earth. Hogsback alone has dozens of waterfalls. In front of Away with the Fairies there is Swallow Tail falls, Bridal Veil Falls and not to mention, the famous Madonna and Child. From our Viewpoint we can also see Kettlespout falls, which this alone is already a natural phenomenon. In heavy winds the water flows backwards and causes a fine spray, resulting in the resemblance of steam from a kettle’s spout and no water going down the waterfall, only up!!!
The name Hogsback was taken either from Captain Hogg of the British army based here in the 1880′s, or more likely, from the shape of the 3 mountains which overlook the village. These stunning looking mountains are topped by rocky ridges which resemble the bristles on a hog’s back.
The Tolkien Connection
With its gorgeous forests, waterfalls, flowers and mountains, Hogsback has an atmosphere of pure fantasy. As a result there are several place names derived from Tolkien’s books – Hobbiton-On-Hogsback, Rivendell and Bag End (the official name of the hostel’s property) to name a few. JRR Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein, and his family reportedly visited Hogsback in the early 1900′s when he was a child. His nanny came from Hogsback and is said to have told him scary stories of the giant flying snake that according to Xhosa legend, lives in the bowels of Hog Three Mountain and manifests itself as a tornado.
While serving in the RAF, Tolkien’s son Christopher was stationed in nearby Queenstown and visited Hogsback several times. He sent back sketches and descriptions of the mountains and forests. These are more than likely to have contributed towards the J.R.R Tolkien fantasy creation, Middle Earth.
Hogs and Horses – The Picasso Connection
If you take a walk through the village, you are bound to meet a roadside Hog seller. They sell unique, painted clay figurines. These have been made in Hogsback for many years to the same design. South African artist Walter Battis (creator of Fook Island) kept up a long correspondence with Pablo Picasso. And in the early 1960′s visited him, taking along some hogs & horses. Picasso is said to have been most impressed, asking, “How does an Etruscan horse end up in Africa?” and pronouncing them the most interesting artifacts to have come from the continent. If one looks at some of the artist’s work of the period, it is easy to believe that the Hogsback figurines had a strong influence on him.
All in all Hogsback is a fantasy world where raw nature meets art and creativity.
Eating and Drinking at the Fairies