Weekend away in Hogsback

Hogsback Village is located halfway between Alice and Cathcart in the Amatola Mountain range in the Eastern Cape of South Africa. We decided on a last minute weekend away to the village of Hogsback leaving our house in Port Alfred and travelling on a route that took us through Bathurst, Grahamstown, Fort Beaufort, Alice and finally into Hogsback. We arrived at our accommodation - Maylodge Cottages - located in a wonderful setting just off the main street. There were six of us staying for the weekend in a delightful thatched cottage (Heron House) with extensive gardens surrounding the house. Our two miniature schnauzers had come along and immediately explored the gardens and took an interest in the monkeys high up in the trees.

The cottage accommodation comprised three bedrooms and three bathrooms with a lovely open plan living area with a fireplace as the centrepiece. Hogsback is surrounded by mountains and a hikers paradise. Its elevated position also means that you do get snowfall in the winter months on the mountains and occasionally in Hogsback village itself. In July they even have what they call "Christmas in July" when the village usually buzzes with people relaxing over a long weekend around log fires.

On our first morning in Hogsback we took a short drive down Oak Avenue which is just off the main high street. We parked and then set off through the Arboretum and up to The 39 Steps Falls. The leaves on the trees are turning beautiful colours and the walk up to the waterfalls is a gentle one. Look out for the huge Giant Redwoods dotted about in the forests.

In the afternoon we took a drive out down Oak Avenue again but this time turned up Forest Drive and then stopped off to walk the hike up to the Kettlespout Falls. This is a longer hike and more strenuous up some steeper steps and inclines but the view is worth it when you reach the top. From the top you can see the waterfalls cascading down and enjoy the views that stretch for miles on a clear day.

Later that day we drove out on the R345 to visit St Patrick on the Hill church which really is quite beautiful. From there we continued on past the Little Candle Factory and onto the Labyrinth - follow the signs for The Edge. Here we stopped and walked around the Labyrinth beofre enjoying a well earned coffee and cake in their cafe/restaurant. After a long day we returned home to enjoy a log fire and scrummy food.

The next morning we sat out by our cottage enjoying the sunshine and views and then headed off down Wolf Ridge Road along a dirt track enjoying the views and then stopping off to have our picnic by the dam. Sadly it was now time to head for Port Alfred and we decided to take a different route home taking the dirt track route to Seymour and then onto Fort Beaufort. This route is recommended for 4x4 vehicles only as the roads are very rough in places and a good clearance is needed.

All in all we had a very relaxing break in Hogsback and it is easy to see why many people from East London and Port Elizabeth visit here for weekend breaks. The air is clean and it is lovely and quiet a real getaway from suburban life. The picturesque village of Hogsback is approximately 1.5 hours from East London.
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