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Overview: We spent 3 nights in a cliff-side rondavel in Hogsback, a small mountain village at 1300m, surrounded by forests with waterfalls.

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Arrival, Town, Hikes, Departure
Satellite Photo: See this South Africa satellite map with pushpins and then zoom in at least once.
Arrival: We arrived just after sunset by car from Graaff-Reinet. The last bit of road climbs up a windy road from a nice little valley, before passing through the small village of Hogsback at the top of the hill, about 1300m above sea level in the scenic Amatola Mountains, surrounded by rain forest.
Rondavel Town: We stayed at the scenic The Edge self-catering cottages, which was a 3km dirt road drive away from the village. Our cottage named "Over The Edge" was a rondavel scenically located about 5m from a cliff. It was cozy and romantic, with a standalone wood-burning fireplace, King bed, kitchenette (microwave, fridge, combo mini-oven with 2 stovetop elements) and bathroom with shower (unfortunately we had been looking forward to taking a bath, but each cottage has slightly different amenities). There was even a stocked "honesty" basket of snacks and drinks. The cottages were well spaced apart giving enough privacy.
We drove back to reception for dinner at the Tea Thyme resto, a small affair with a fireplace, patio and a limited but tasty menu. My warthog fillet was the tastiest meat of the trip! The waitress kindly gave us some milk, for our morning coffee, in a little water bottle. Ater a short drive back to the cottage through thick fog, we built a nice fire to fall asleep to. It was cold enough to need the fire, even in the daytime!
Roaring fire The next day was rainy, so we enjoyed a lazy day in bed. Having built another fire in the early morning, we kept it going for hours. We made breakfast in the room (thanks to the self-catering kitchen) using granola and other food items Susan had bought in Knysna. We even opened the cardamom coffee we had bought in Zanzibar, using my little camping/travel coffee steeper.
I made a quick trip into the village to get a newspaper -- for the fire, not to read -- and some milk and snacks, but the little grocery store was closed from 13:00 for a one hour lunch. I had to ask where it was located (by the mini gas station) since it was hard to see when closed. When we returned later in the afternoon, we were surprised to see the goods were all behind the counter or in display cases only accessible by staff from behind the counter.
Tip Tip: If self-catering, bring most of your groceries with you from a larger town, if possible.
We enjoyed an early dinner at Nina's Deli, which seemed to own the little TI building next door. The British owner, as of almost 1 year, chatted with us quite a bit, as we were the only customers. He suggested fresh (bottled) Sunshine Juice for R10, which was indeed very nice, with little bits of fruit in it. In fact, Sunshine Juice is produced on the coast in Port Alfred, which we would visit a few nights later, and only distributed in that general area of the country, as the fresh-squeezed juice has a natural preservative added but has a short shelf-life. I really miss that juice!
In any case, I enjoyed my funky tasty pizza with roquefort cheese, bacon and figs. He also gave us some fire-starting briquettes when we asked him for old newspapers; this made starting our fire later that evening much easier.
Before the foggy drive back to our rondavel, we used the Internet at a pub/resto.
The next morning was rainy and foggy, so we made a fire and relaxed in our lovely rondavel, making our own breakfast and lunch. Oddly enough, I found a scorpion on a log in our diminishing firewood stack, which I booted off into the bushes. Shortly after that, a young black boy peeked around the corner of our terrace and ran off... returning a little later with a fresh pile of firewood and kindling.
Hikes: The sky cleared in the afternoon so we went for three hikes - well, more like short walks. Two of them went to waterfalls; the second one past many small ones, then right to the top edge of a tall waterfall with a great valley view. The third one followed a muddy path along a fence to a nice viewpoint (similar valley view).
Creek with bridge We then drove to the small, rustic Away With The Fairies backpackers, which happened to be right next to that last viewpoint via an archway, without the long muddy slog!
We enjoyed very tasty coffees in the bar of the backpackers which, true to its name, had colourful murals depicting nubile fairies. In addition, the bar had a beautiful bar top, long dining table and benches made from single pieces of an obviously huge tree (which had fallen down on the property in recent years). Also, 3 dogs lazed by the fireplace, 2 of them curled up on the loveseat.
By the way, I mentioned the tasty coffee because generally we found the coffee to be weak in South Africa.
We peeked into the main building and chatted with the colourful group of mostly older guests in the lounge, including a tipsy-on-wine woman in her 50s, a suicide counselor from New Brunswick, Canada, who travels half of every year; and a South African couple in their 70s, of which the man had some appalling apartheid-style views on life (he said that "the cities were better and safer when the blacks were only allowed in to work as we needed them").
We ate dinner at The Saw Pit on the main street in the village. It was empty (mid-week, low season) except for one drunk German named Uwe, who drove away later -- and really shouldn't have been driving! Well, another couple arrived shortly after us. The food was OK - burgers, one of them venison, and, sigh, yet more chips (french fries).
Labyrinth Departure: After breakfast in front of the fire in our room, we checked out at an unusually early 10:00, though we probably could have asked for an extension. We walked The Edge's large labyrinth for some spiritual centering, though I found the nearby right-on-the-cliff-side viewpoint more interesting. The 29m diameter labyrinth is a 700m stone path (no hedges here) whose design is based on the labyrinth at Chartres Cathedral in France.

We drove Cintsa on the coast, about two hours southeast of Hogsback.
Dinner at Nina's DeliR89 + tip
mineral waterR10
red wineR9

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