Hogsback still lives up to its magical reputation for those looking for a little bit of fantasy in their lives. (Photo: iStock)
Up in the Amathole mountains of the Eastern Cape lies the village where fantasy stories are born among its enchanted woods, forests and fairy magic.
I was a student when I first made a mission to this much-talked-about haven, and for a fantasy-obsessed superfan it felt like the perfect way to celebrate my birthday during the winter holidays. We wanted to go just for a day for their Christmas in July festival and the snow, but while we missed the snow by a few days, we found a place that tends to entwine itself in your heart.
SEE: Hogsback - place of magic and legend
Hitting the slow 2-hour drive from Grahamstown to this idyllic place felt like forever, but when you feel like you're travelling to a different world it's not really that far.
As soon as you start hitting that uphill battle with the mountain range, you already feel the magic vibrating through the lush forests of the area, but can Hogsback hold up to the idolised land of imagination purported by so many who've been there?
Yes it does, and it does so with flair. Despite the fact that it's been proven that Hogsback was indeed not the inspiration for JRR Tolkien's Middle Earth universe, it's hard not to believe the decades of claims that dwarves, hobbits and wizards were born here. It may have been a while since my adventure through this hidden treasure, but time moves at a slow pace here, and not much has changed since.
SEE: Get gnarly at 8 of Eastern Cape's top surf spots
The Camelot Fairy Meander
The first stop on the agenda has to be the Camelot Fairy Meander - the most obvious attraction that links to the village's fantastical charm. It might sound like a tourist trap, but the beautiful art pieces that pepper the gardens of Camelot Cottages deserves praise.
All locally crafted by the property's owner Patrick Smith, the fairies and other magical critters are accompanied by signs of peace, tranquillity and giving you a good pep talk so that you walk out of there with the feeling that you may have been truly touched by something supernatural.
Another place where a local Hogsbackian took to heart the magical rumours of the village is Diana Graham who constructed a masterpiece on what looks like the edge of the world. The Eco-Shrine is designed to denote the broken connection between man and nature, and a walk through Graham's work will definitely help you feel like giving Mother Nature a high five.
The shrine also has the ideal location - looking over the mountains that help create the magical scenery of Hogsback. You can also buy Graham's art from her studio that is situated next to the shrine, or buy some curio along the main road in the village if you want to take a little piece back with you to the 'real' world.
SEE: From Addo to the Wild Coast: SA’s top wildlife experiences to add to your Eastern Cape itinerary
A historic place where many weary travellers (or hobbits on a mission to save Middle Earth) has put up their feet with a pint or two, the Hogshead Tavern at the Hogsback Inn is a nice escape from the witchy elements when Inkanyamba decides to wreak havoc.
A traditional English pub, there are two fires to keep you warm when the snow descends and you can swap tales with the locals or other travellers also looking to find the secret treasures of the village.
Madonna and Child Falls
While I've never experienced Hogsback in summer, the cool serene pool at the bottom of the Madonna and Child Falls would be perfect to cool down in when the sun is high and baking. The waterfall is named after a rock at the top of the waterfall that looks like a mother and child, frozen in time and never growing old.
Before you start on this short 150-metre walk, a local will try to sell you a walking stick made from alien vegetation, but do not feel pressured to buy even if the person claims 'you can't walk it without one'. Handrails are there to assist most of the steepest inclines, and you can take a longer detour to the 800-year-old yellow wood if you want to see something really ancient. It probably has many stories to share, if only anyone would listen.
PICS: Do go chase North Carolina's waterfalls in the US
Find Your Escape with our Traveller24 Weekly Newsletter – Subscribe here. Or download the News24 App here, to receive expertly curated travel wanderlust directly to your mobile.