Hogsback, South Africa

Madonna and Child Falls Hike - Hogsback, South Africa

Originally added by LJ Nielsen

Picturesque WaterfallsAn 800 year old "Big tree"South African Flora and FaunaBath with a view

Hogsback is a picturesque town located in the scenic Amathole Mountains of South Africa’s Eastern Cape Province. Although made up of only several streets, and with a population of just over a thousand, Hogsback delivers its visitors with artistic cafes, quiet inns and a wealth of small town charm. However, it is the natural features of the town that truly make Hogsback a memorable destination. The beautiful forests, streaming waterfalls, rewarding hikes and local history that make this Eastern Cape marvel a local favourite are all encapsulated in the Madonna and Child Falls hike, a four-hour journey that you can start with a bath and end with a swim.

The Trail head for this walk is located at the end of Ambleside Close, in the Away with Fairies Backpackers. This hostel is world-famous for its bath with a view, where visitors can strip down and “bring the hygiene” whilst gazing in awe across the Hogsback State Forest in the valley below. This is a popular spot for a bath however, and many of the guests don’t mind sharing, so get in just after sunrise to ensure an empty tub.

The trail begins slightly east of the bath, and is clearly sign posted. Staff at the hostel can provide a mass-produced hand-drawn map for the various trails in the valley below, however, it would be best to bring a more-geographically correct alternative. The trail descends steeply to the valley floor and can be reasonably slippery, so your favourite boots will need to ready to work if it’s raining.

The track to the valley loops back as it reaches the floor, and while there isn’t always wildlife to spot, the hike boasts a healthy range of native flora. At the heart of the hike stands the Big Tree, an 800-year old Yellowwood that looms over the rest of the forest at 36.6m high. From here, there are various trails to choose from and for the brave, plenty of rock scrambling options.

The hike also has several branches to nearby Swallow Tail Falls and the Bridal Veil Falls, however, the jewel in Hogsback’s crown, is the Madonna and Child Falls. The falls are situated next to a deep plunge pool that offers exhausted hikers the opportunity for a much-welcomed swim. During wet weather, however, this may not be necessary.

From the falls, it is a steep 150m climb up a set of rickety wooden steps to the main road, effectively lifting you out of the forest. The walk back to Hogsback is a 3km stint on a dirt road, which appears to be a bland end to an otherwise fantastic hike. Fortunately, you will have the pleasure of witnessing the locals out for a sojourn, baboons and monkeys racing through the trees, various cottages and even a water wheel. Once back to base, you can put your feet up, but why would you? There is always something else to discover in this beautiful part of the world.

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Picnic Area
Swimming Hole


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We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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