Part 2 : Summer Holiday '22/'23
From Baviaans we moved on to Hogsback, about a 7 hour drive. Surprisingly some of the roads through this part of the Eastern Cape have been fixed up or are being worked on, and the taxi's weren't driving too badly. We passed a lot of traffic driving down to Cape Town from GP, but not so much going the same direction as us. It was pretty rainy and soggy when we arrived. We stayed at the Edge for the 3rd time, in the brand new Cabin. Since we had visited Hogsback a few times in both summer and winter, we knew to expect it to be misty and a bit wet, but still warm. But boy was it misty and wet wet wet, and cold! The one day was 7-16C only, in South African summer! Luckily there is a lovely shop at the Edge that sells cosy tops and things, so at least we could get something to keep warm and dry.
The Cabin is a lovely open plan self catering cottage, with a double bed and living area space. It has a well equipped kitchen with big fridge, 2 plate stove and a bodum. The bathroom is nice, with a warm shower. There is a deck looking out over the garden and the Bluff, which was mostly in mist during our stay. You can walk through the beautiful gardens and the labyrinth, which is one of the biggest in the world and gorgeous with flowers. There is also a walk along the Bluff where you can look across to the other side of the escarpment and down below, this is about 3km. The Edge also has a great restaurant, which has improved so much since our first stay there about 6 years ago. They now have a more varied offering, including many vegan options. You can also pick up a freshly baked bread or pastries to take home with you. On Saturdays there is a market in the gardens, sadly we weren't around for it this time.
The town of Hogsback is small, but there are lots of places to visit and it is very dog friendly. A must stop is the chocolate shop, so far in our travels around SA this place has the best handmade choccies. There are a bunch of other little shops selling souvenirs, homemade food stuff and some very cute mystical type places, like a fairy garden, aromatherapy space and crystal shop, all well worth a visit. In the centre of town is the Hogsback brewery, which has a large outside area where you can taste/drink their great beer and have a light meal. It was very popular with doggy people.
One of Hogsback's main attractions is the indigenous afromontane forest high in the Amatole mountains. There are lots of hikes in and around the forest and you can pick up a little booklet very cheaply with descriptions and routes. Or you can head on down to the main forestry entrance near the arboretum and check out the map there and then follow the different coloured hogs. A very easy stroll is around the arboretum, which includes massive old redwoods and the 39 steps waterfall, you can do this in about 1.5km. The steepest hike is up to Tor Doone and was extremely muddy and slippery this time around, but normally it's okay. The views from the top, over the forest and town are gorgeous, as long as you beat the mist up there. We had a quick moment of sun and views before another rain shower caught us. There are a few other hikes with lots of waterfalls, which were all very full this summer. The Kettlespout falls is always interesting, watching the water shoot out over the edge. There are also the Bridal Falls and Madonna and Child Falls and the Big Tree at the bottom end of the town. The boardwalks on these were a bit broken and the trails a little overgrown, but it looked like they were planning on doing repairs. You can do each hike individually or link them together to make a whole days worth. If you are lucky enough you will see the endangered Cape Parrot, which is endemic to South Africa. We were so lucky, for the first time, to see a couple of family groups! There is also the bright Knysna Turaco to look out for and lots of naughty monkeys. There are also lots of mountain biking and 4x4 routes. So plenty to keep everyone busy.
The sounds of the forest are amazing, so even if you don't enjoy hiking you need to at least go sit under the trees and listen. Video is for sound only, please excuse the shakey image and slippery granny-style running!
Hogsback is a wonderful place to visit is you are interested in exploring and experiencing the different parts of South Africa. In winter it gets very cold and often snows, and it is a summer rainfall area. There are often thunder storms in summer, so if your dog is not used to it, then keep him close. Ours get quite scared when it's loud. There are quite a few dog friendly places to stay of varying price and luxury. We have mostly chosen to stay at The Edge as it fits in our budget, but it does get booked up quickly, so you must be early to get a room. For the Cabin we paid R750pn and the dogs were a once off fee of R200, which we don't mind paying with all the mud and fur they track in. As far as I know there are no fences around any of the cottages at The Edge, but they could have added a fenced one that I'm not aware of. There is a fence between the area where the Cabin is and the Bluff edge.
This video is just for cuteness sake. Instead of waiting for us to open the gate they were like the naughty bunnies in Peter Rabbit, going into Farmer McGregor's veggie patch!