The Flowers of Hogsback, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

Hogsback, the little village perched in-between the mountains of the Eastern Cape is famous for many things.

Its eclectic collection of residents is well known to the fairies that inhabit the beautiful surrounding forests and gardens. The waterfalls are extremely beautiful, the mountains are breath taking, and so on and so forth.

The Labyrinth at sunrise, at The Edge, Hogsback, South Africa.

Hogsback celebrates Christmas in July every year, on a weekend towards the end of July, when it is hoped that snow will fall. Many South African towns regularly experience snow in winter (don’t forget we’re in the Southern Hemisphere, and winter is from May to August here), but few are as quaint and cosy as Hogsback. Being a few hours’ drive from the coastal cities of East London and Port Elizabeth, make it the perfect weekend getaway destination. The whole village joins in to create a magical Christmas Festival. When the weather plays along, plenty of snow men are built, and lots of snowball fights are had.

But I wasn’t in Hogsback in the middle of winter, although the weather was chilly. Hogsback is also a garden wonderland at the beginning of spring, and it proudly has open gardens that the public can visit  – gardens that are ablaze with the bright colours of azaleas, roses and other flowers. The azaleas literally form walls of colour, that are really an overload of prettiness.

Amongst this blaze of colour, Samango monkeys (known as Sykes’ monkeys elsewhere in Africa), have loud arguments about who in the troop gets what to eat. Rare and endangered Cape Parrots (there are only 1500 left in the wild) fly overhead, adding to the monkey cacophony. Baboons are common; our hotel, The Edge, has warnings about leaving food out and doors open, which would be an open invitation to them. I don’t like baboons, and hoped that they would stay well away from me as I wandered around.

At sunrise I was at the Chartres Cathedral inspired labyrinth. It is urrounded by more beautiful gardens; a group of yellow daisies were the first to feel the sun’s rays on that chilly morning. The labyrinth is one of many ‘specials’ that Hogsback boasts. There is also an Eco Shrine and an Arboretum. Nurseries, gemstone shops, restaurants and adrenaline rush sports are all part of this special village, whose one tourist attracting ‘fact’, that JRR Tolkien, the creator of the Lord of the Rings, spent time there, has turned out to be just a figment of someone’s wishful imagination. Although a Hobbit would probably feel right at home in Hogsback, Tolkien never actually visited the town.

After my visit to the labyrinth, I took a cup of coffee to the cliff edge at The Edge, and enjoyed the magical peaceful atmosphere. I was high up, but I could hear the river rushing far below me. As I went back to the cottage, I saw what I first thought to be dog. It went on its way, thankfully, as I realized that that wasn’t dog, it was large baboon. It thankfully disappeared before my automatic baboon freak out mode cut in.

There is plentiful and varied accommodation in Hogsback, from backpackers to classy hotels. Restaurants, such as the Happy Hog, set in another beautiful garden, serve great food, lunch in their lovely garden is a must.

Spoil yourself, take a trip to the mountains, and you will fall in love with Hogsback.

The Galavanter enjoying lunch in a beautiful Hogsback garden

By Kathryn Costello

I travel. I read. I get up to mischief. I write about what I have been up to. I also have fun writing down the stories that I told my daughter when she was little about a dolphin named Michaela. I am a tourism consultant. Owning and managing a successful guesthouse, working for tourism organizations and travelling has given me a lot of insight about what makes a tourism orientated business successful.

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