I’ve been told that Hogsback draws people to it, that the mountain has a soul and personality of its own, and that certainly seems to be the case. A South African girl I met told me to come to this tiny village in the Eastern Cape hills, and I’m so glad I followed her advice. This place is as unique as its name suggests, incredibly strange, and spectacularly beautiful. It’s odd in the best way possible.
Hogsback is well off the tourist trail and is home to a weird assortment of artists, hippies and burnouts. A lot of people who live here never intended to stay, and can’t really explain why they can’t leave. It doesn’t feel or look like the rest of South Africa, or anywhere else in the world. People here believe in fairies and drink hallucinogenic cactuses. Cows wander the streets. Homemade statues decorate the town. Restaurants and bars are hidden away between the trees.
There are some incredible walking trails around here, winding through the surreal landscape and racing past delightful waterfalls. The trees are full of monkeys, everything is green and lush, and there’s a special peacefulness that is impossible to resist. I’ve spent the past few days exploring this wonderful place, and there are still so many trails to scramble along and mountains to climb.
Of course, a man can’t exist on hiking alone, so it’s a good thing that Hogsback provides some of the finest drinking I’ve ever encountered. My hostel is home to a really great bar with cheap beer, awesome company, and seemingly endless free gin shots. I’ve been drunk or hungover since I got here, which has made my journeys into the bush even stranger.
Hogsback is also one of those places where lots of 19-year-old sheilas come to ‘find themselves’, meaning females massively outnumber males here. The first night I shared my dorm with seven pretty, blonde American teenagers exploring the big, wide world for the first time. And so, after drinking heavily at the bar for six hours, I did what any redblooded male would – I went in there, tripped over a hair straightener, banged my head on the floor, failed spectacularly to climb into my bunk, fell out of bed, then passed out in the corner. It’s safe to say that’s not the sort of spiritual awakening those girls came to Hogsback for.