Wilderness - Hogsback Otter Trail – Hogsback

So, after our very enjoyable Otter Trail Hike, we headed for a bit of R&R to Plettenberg Bay. “Plett”, as it is known, is quite the yuppie town, all nice cafes and restaurants and views. We enjoyed some small surf and our first bit of warm beach time here, although as ever Jane needed encouragement to get out in the waves! As Jane said…if only I could remember how much I enjoy it once I get out there…

Plettenberg Bay

En route out of Plett a couple of days later, we detoured via the Harkerville Reserve. Cathal had suggested we might try out some mountain biking there. Only after we had got all kitted out and had committed ourselves did he reveal that the route was one of the more challenging in all of South Africa….I should really learn sometime to read between the lines! Actually it was great, a fantastic forest trail, leading out to a cliff trail through fynbos and overlooking the Indian Ocean. A bit of a climb to finish, but worth it! Lovely sunshine too.

Harkerville 1 Cathal at Harkerville

Cathal’s adrenaline was up, so next on the hit list was Bloukrans Bridge Bunjy Jump..the highest in the world at over 216 metres (that’s pretty much like diving off the Cliffs of Moher). It was all adrenaline and pumping music…just walking out to the bridge was breathtaking enough!!

Cathal bungy Bloukrans river The Bridge he jumped off!

Jeffreys Bay

Well known surf spot…and a mecca for surfwear…nice. We stayed here a few days to check out the “legendary” surf. Jeffreys Bay, however, is “Bray” to Plettenberg’s “Dalkey”. A little tired around the edges and showing its frayed edges out of season. A few surfs (nothing too classic), lots of coffee in “die Koffeepot” (the owners loved Ireland) and a bit of shopping passed the time nicely. We also explored Cape St Francis – a kite-boarders mecca.

Cathal bought a board in “J-bay” – but was destined to wait several weeks before actually finding decent conditions to try it out. Most of the time it was on the roof of our car! This is not an unusual scenario

J Bay Surfboard Township J Bay - every town has them

Cape St Francis Kitesurfers

Altough we’re back-packing our way around, we would generally be regarded as “flash-packers” by some of the younger generation we meet. Essentially, we’re operating on a budget (100 euro a day in the case of South Africa), which is enough to cover car-hire, our accommodation and pretty much eating out for every meal. It’s not 5 star (by any means), but we’re getting very high standards. We’d barely get a b&b and a pint at home for that! It’s great value here – at most, you pay half what would be paid at home and often less. A beer in a bar is typically less than a euro. There are plenty of places that are cheaper than home, but SA stands out because you get such a high quality “western product” for your buck.


We were headed north-east – back inland for a hit of mountains – and Grahamstown provided a handy half way spot. Lovely town in a valley surrounded by hills. It was an English settler town, and is now student-ville. Cheap deals on food and drink everywhere! Our home here was pretty unusual – we stayed at the Old Gaol Backpackers – the brainchild of a local entrepreneur who saw an opportunity in the unused buildings (last used as a jail in 1976). We stayed in an old “holding” cell – complete with original graffiti left by local gangs, and declarations that the food was terrible. They are currently developing the area that housed the hanging yard…think it would be a bit freaky staying there! Incidentally, our bedroom used to hold 8 people.

Grahamstown was a lovely place to wander around, old colonial architecture, wide streets and lots of bustle. We visited the “Observatory”, which houses a Victorian camera obscura, a 19th century webcam! We were treated to 360 degree views of the town, in real time, via a system of mirrors, in the tower of the building. Impressive!

Grahamstown Observatory Museum


On from Grahamstown, the fairies and tales of Hobbits lured us to Hogsback, in the Amathole district. A non-descript drive through brush landscape could not have prepared us for the magical misty place that is Hogsback! It is talked up a bit in the guidebooks, but deservedly so. Mistly clouds hung over the valley, birds and monkeys filled the trees with noise. Signposts directed visitors to Rivendell and Hobbiton. We enjoyed two nights in “Away with the fairies” backpackers (see our later section on interesting places we’ve stayed!) A highlight was a hike through the forest in the mist, hoping not to be confronted by any wicked goblins! We topped it off with a night in the Hogsback Inn, hosted by Oliver from Laois. It was a bit like Rosslare in the offseason! Learnt how to make the local shot speciality – a 4×4!

Cathal’s cousin, Rachel Conway, had told us before we left how she had brought a bottle of champers with her to have on the first night of her honeymoon with Tyler. Seemed like a good idea! But, backpackers are not always the most romantic of places, so Jane ended up carrying that bottle for 3 weeks before we finally popped it in front of the fire (in our bedroom!) in Hogsback. Regardless, Jane was not going to continue carrying it. Mental note, remember some tips won’t necessarily suit our chosen style of travel!

Hike at Hogsback - hogs guide our way Hogsback Hike

View from Away with the Fairies Hostel Wild Lillies @ Hogsback


2 Responses to “3 Garden Route to Hogsback”

  1. 1 The Samuels November 6, 2007 at 9:35 pm

    Greetings to you guys!

    Glad to see and hear that all is well on your travels.

    Looking forward to hearing all about it on your return!

    Keep up the good work and don’t even spare a thought for us hard working individuals battling to get out of bed in the morning cos it’s so cold and work is so c**p!!!

    lots of love

    Mr and Mrs S xx

  2. 2 Rachel November 21, 2007 at 8:34 pm

    Hey Honeymooners!! The trip sounds fab!! Very envious of you two off on such an adventure. Jane – I can’t believe you lugged that champers around for 3 weeks – I would have popped it on the first night!! Time is passing so quickly – Rebecca is now 4 months old – and quite the little character! She also has a big case of the “baby chubs” – soooo cute 🙂 Oh, and speaking of champers, some of my friends who are also on mat leave and I have instituted “champagne thursdays” – exactly what the title suggests! Loving mat leave…
    Looking forward to reading more about your adventures…
    Lots of love,

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