A fairy tale village in South Africa

Megan Wilkins


In the Eastern Cape of South Africa exists a small village that time and reality have forgotten. Uniquely named Hogsback, after the shape of the surrounding mountains, this village seems straight out of a fairy-tale, with picturesque woodlands and waterfalls to match. Serving as the inspiration for The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, you will find your imagination running wild as you explore the land where J.R.R Tolkien spent much of his youth. Seek out the magic of this mysterious wilderness while you enjoy the comfort and care provided by the hospitable townspeople. Or spend your days chasing waterfalls and your evenings warming by the fire in the cosy pub. Feel at home on this remarkable journey. After all, “not all who wander are lost” - J.R.R Tolkien.

Comfort meets quirk in beautiful accommodation

Hogsback is known for its array of choices when it comes to accommodation. Each option has something special to give - from the beauty and class of the Arminel Hotel to the jaw-dropping views at The Edge. The decision is truly yours as to the experience you may want. There is a great sense of community in Hogsback, so you will often find garden cottages and log cabins to rest your head, where the landowners invite you in for a glass of wine or the farm dogs curl up by your fire. 

However, if you want something a bit more luxurious, why not choose a night in one of The Arminel’s self-catering cottages, nestled deep in a forest and reminiscent of a fairy-tale. Or, wake up to spectacular views of the river in one of the Hogsback Inn’s River Suites. However, if you want something a bit quirky and different, then why not spend a few nights in a magical Teepee experience, complete with log-burning fire and enough blankets to snuggle the evening away.  

Forest and mountain hikes to take your breath away

Hogsback is known for its deep forests and spectacular waterfalls, all of which contain some of the most breath-taking hikes and walks in the country. Each hike has been given a different rating by the tourism board in terms of difficulty. Some are simple walks, like the stroll through the Arboretum to 39 Steps Waterfall, where you will get to see the distinctive flora of the area, and maybe even spot the endangered Cape Parrot. Or, take a slow hike down to the Madonna and Child waterfall, where you can walk in the stream of the mountain waters as you try to spot the Madonna and Child carving in one of the rocks opposite the falls.

For a true adventure there and back again, you can spend the day hiking through the whole of Hogsback, checking off each waterfall and landmark as you go. It is not for the faint of heart, but you will be sure to emerge a new person after truly connecting with nature.

Feast like a Hobbit in the fabulous eateries

While the Arminel Hotel offers elegant dining, the true stars of the show are the local pubs and restaurants. Join in with the local cheer and a pint at the Hog and Hornbill, as the barman’s dog provides a sense of home while you get stuck into your meal. Or, spend some time at The Lighthouse, famous for its pizza and ribs.

During the day, why not play a game of lawn bowls and pop over to the Butterfly Bistro for tea and lunch? The lush gardens are beautiful to explore while you nibble on a slice of freshly baked cake. You cannot leave Hogsback without going to the restaurant at The Edge, where they make their delectable meals with local, fresh, and seasonal produce. Or join one of their wine tasting events for a food and wine pairing to write home about.  


Enrich your life with the local culture

The local culture in Hogsback is unlike any other. An eclectic mix of traditional Xhosa and esoteric beliefs, you will find yourself off with the fairies while you learn the true meaning of khaya (home). The locals love to sing, dance, and embrace all things eco-friendly. You are sure to find a hidden gnome or troll around most corners, and essential oils, crystals, and labyrinths are part of the norm. It is easy to see why Tolkien was so inspired by the fantasy of this gorgeous place.

Make sure to support the local traders by purchasing a clay hog, made by their families, or embrace your inner Gandalf with a hand-carved wooden walking stick for your hikes. There are many artists in the area who are happy to sculpt and paint any requests you may have. 

Full-moon and tree festivals to lift the spirit

As part of the ethos of Hogsback, every year the community celebrates the sacred trees around them. From days spent in yoga and meditation, to evenings dancing in the woods and celebrating life, you will find your heart amongst the branches. The festival runs for a few days near the end of September each year, and guests are invited to eat clean, plant trees, and expand the habitat of the endangered Cape Parrot and Samango Monkey. The festival is hosted by Terra-Khaya “Earth Home Project”, and included talks from special guests about maintaining an eco-conscious life.

Each month, locals celebrate the coming of the full moon, with music and meditation. If you are lucky to be there at this time, why not pop on your yoga gear and head to the eco-shrine, where guests are invited to join the ‘witches’ circle’ for a celebration of the lunar cycle. Or, head to Away with the Fairies and soak in the moonlight in their famous outdoor bath at the edge of a cliff, complete with warm water and a glass of bubbly, if you like. 

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