An ambience of tranquility, gorgeous murals from Lord of the Rings, serene walks and hikes through the forest, the best pizzas in South Africa, super friendly staff & guests, …AND…an amazing outdoor bathtub with a spectacular view (#WorldFamousBath)!! What more could you ask for? We got all this and more during our stay at Away with the Fairies in Hogsback. Hogsback has become one of our favourite places in South Africa. Yes, that is quite the compliment considering we have visited almost all the major tourist attractions and cities in the country!
Most of our readers have never ever heard of Hogback. That is why blogs like ours are so useful…to tell you about and show you places that you might never visit without hearing about it from us! I had never heard of this magical town until I started researching online after we arrived in South Africa a few weeks ago. Almost every blogger, every guidebook including Coast to Coast & Lonely Planet, and every backpacker we met on the Baz Bus recommended we stop at Hogsback. It was certainly out-of-the-way and off-the-beaten track but most memories are created when you take the road less travelled!
Since we had 2 days in East London, we decided to make the journey up to Hogback. Luckily, there is a shuttle to and from East London. We were not really sure what to expect…the anticipation certainly built up as we left East London and made our way to King Williams Town and then up to the University of Fort Hare in Alice. When we started making our way down a windy road and the most beautiful valley and mountains stood before us, my wife and I looked at each other and we knew we had made the right decision to come to Hogsback!
When we arrived at Away with the Fairies, we were warmly greeted by Garth (yes, that’s him in the picture above) who showed us around the property and to our room. When we walked to the viewpoint and then the bathtub, our jaws dropped. I really could not believe they had put an outdoor bath with WARM water (yes, warm water!) for you to relax in while overlooking the 3 peaks of Hogsback and the valley below. Rianne, Ryan, and I jumped in for THE BEST BATH OF OUR LIVES! (make sure you get some of the organic bubble bath from reception)! #WorldFamousBath
The town of Hogsback is connected to J.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit Mythology as Tolkien’s nanny told him tales of the area when he was growing up. We definitely could see the similarity to the movies and books when we explored Hogsback (it reminds me of Hobbiton in New Zealand, where most of The Shire scenes were filmed for the trilogy). Each of the accommodations have gorgeous murals including the 9 characters from the Fellowship. If you are a fan of Lord of the Rings that gives you another reason to visit Hogback! Here’s little Ryan with a giant mural of Gandalf!
The hostel is owned and operated by a super friendly English-man named Dan…he is a new dad too, so we connected instantly! Dan came to South Africa as a backpacker in his early 20s and loved the town so much that he ended up managing the hostel and then eventually buying it. That’s Dan (nicknamed “Dandalf”) with #BabyRenzo in the picture below! Renzo took a liking to Dan’s beard immediately! Dan is also the co-owner of Sugar Shack in East London and Coffee Shack in Coffee Bay. Dan has ensured the place is family-friendly and there is lots for kids to see and do!
We stayed at the Hobbit Cottage which had its’ own kitchen and 2 bedrooms. It was quiet and peaceful while being only a 2 minutes walk from the restaurant, fire-pit, viewpoint, and hiking trails (including the famous Amatole Trail). It really felt like it was built for hobbits as the doors are split in two so you can either open the top half, the bottom half, or both halves together. Our kids wanted to visit each chalet and lodge just to see the amazing murals featuring the loveable characters from Lord of the Rings. Plus, we even got to see monkeys from the window which our kids were absolutely thrilled about!
We did some walks in the area including the Fairy Meander and a walk through the Indigenous Forest. The Fairy Walk is awesome if you have kids as there are over 80 statues of fairies around a 400 meter walking loop trail. We had some mouth-watering, stomach-quenching Pizzas for dinner as well as a delicious Full Mounty Breakfast and a yummy Organic Smoothie to start the day at the onsite restaurant. We made several friends (lots of the guests were also from Canada)! My wife and daughter bought hand-made Anklets from one of the guests to remember the experience.
There are not many places that surprise me as a seasoned traveller but Hogsback was certainly one of them. After years of travel, I have learned it is important to listen to those who have gone before us. I’m glad we listened to all the recommendations and we encourage you to listen to our suggestion too: Visit Away with the Fairies in Hogsback…and…tell them “Daddy Blogger sent me!”
Check our our Highlights Video below: