Plains, Terrains and being Mobile – the road to Amatola

For his challenge this week, Johnbo is asking us to share images of our our journeys and spesifically regarding planes, trains, automobiles and where it takes us. Please visit his post for wonderful photos and insights. Those with exceptional observation ability 🙂 may have noticed that I misspelled the heading which Johnbo provided us. Fortunately for me he also gives this option: “Consider images of places you’ve traveled if you’re not into capturing those modes of transportation that got you there

Having said that this post Ă­s about the mode of transportation that got and is going to get us there, those attached to this mode (i.e. the owners of this mode of transportation) and indeed the places where our feet take us…

Mode of transportation

But what inspires me to join what I used to call the Lens Artist quartet after an absence of more than 2 years? I am extremely exited to hike the Amatola trail in the Eastern Cape Province of South Africa commencing this Sunday. On the Amatola trails website the following is stated regarding fitness: “You don’t need to be a super-athlete. It does however help to be a physically active person, and be capable of hiking up to 10 hours a day on 6 consecutive days”. Okay so when last did I hike 10 hours a day for 6 consecutive days? Now I remember … never. This 100km trail should be a piece of cake. But how did I get involved in this madness??

Let’s start at the very beginningA very good place to startWhen you read, you begin with A-B-CWhen you sing, you begin with Do-Re-Mi

In the beginning of the year a friend of my wife invited her along on a 3 day trail in the Outeniqua mountains and I was fortunate enough that my wife invited me along (she actualy told met that I was fortunate!). It was during this hike that a few people noticed I took photographs… and I was informed that later this year they will be hiking the Amatola. Unfortunately it was fully subscribed but I was told if there was a cancellation they would invite me along. Having enjoyed the trail and the people, I took out a contract on one of the Amatola hikers who wasn’t present at the Outeniqua…

The very first morning of the Outeniqua trail. Wonderful people

The indigenous forests on the trail where only your feet can take you…

We then hiked the very challenging Arangieskop week-end trail known as the “Kilimanjaro of the Western Cape” Although it is steep, it was the cold and rain which got to us on day 1. Underneath is the beginning of day 2 (still cold and wet) but our spirits are high (or my jokes are funny) – definitely the first option!

Arangieskop smiles

The sun broke through the clouds for 10 minutes

Soon after this photo, the owners of the mode of transportation became wet

And a smaller group hiking the Cape of Good Hope weekend trail at Cape point.

Towards Cape Point

And there were lots of day trails thrown in between where only your feet can take you. 

Banhoek – better than Middle earth

Paarl Rock

Mont Rochelle Franschhoek

And in the process I learned that the Amatola was arranged to co-inside with the 50th birthday of the friend of my wife – a person with a passion for hiking – Sandra Joubert (but she still fear heights). Hiking gets her into and takes her out of her comfort zone. The Amatola is one big birthday party for Sandra.

Tranquility Cranks Table Mountain. Adventurous ladies. Sandra is on the left

Underneath I scribbeld something about  J.R.R Tolkien’s connection with South Africa and the town where the hike ends, Hogsback. 

Was it his trilogy of names which inspired John Ronald Reuel to write The Lord of the Rings as a trilogy? Not many people are aware that J.R.R. Tolkien was born in South Africa in Bloemfontein in 1892, the then capital of the independent republic of Free State – independent from England that is.

But the question should rather be asked if the little village of Hogsback and the surrounding Amathole mountains and forests inspired Middle Earth in Lord of the Rings/The Hobbit. In fact, existing locations in Hogsback like, Rivendell, River Running, The Shire, Lothlorien, Hobbiton, Hobbit Lane, Gandalf’s Rest and Middle Earth are echoed in Tolkien’s tales. The town has the climate of England (it appears they do not want to be a Free State) and the beautifully mysterious misty forests, are an ideal location to inspire fables, fiction, and fairy tales.

A classic hobbit home in Hogsback. Picture credit Starways by Kate Whitney Chauncey

If you boldly go to where no one has gone before–  this website  â€“ (I may be confusing my movies) it is declared that you can Discover the South African village that inspired The Hobbit. So then done and dusted such are the facts… Only problem is that J.R.R. Tolkien and his mother left for England when he was 3 years old and Bloemfontein (480 kilometres from Hogsback) is no Middle Earth.  While I would like to believe the fablelike version being perpetuated, it was the reading of The Hobbit in 1945 to children which led to a holiday camp for orphans to be named Hobbiton. While I have not been to Hogsback (yet), I have ogled it via various photos and videos and like Middle Earth, it is a magical place. Thus, do not be too hard on the residents of Hogsback for claiming mythical literary grandeur and modelling aspects of their village accordingly.

So what inspires me to break my blogging silence after such a long time? Well I was asked to write a blogpost called The road to Amatola of which this is a prelude. I am boldly going where no Abrie has gone before.

“Amatola: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Amatola hiking group. Its 6-day mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no one has gone before.” Apologies Trekkies for claiming Starship Enterprise grandeur but we wÍll be a trekking in the day and star gazing in the evening.

Planes, Trains and Spacecraft Johnbo…

Tonight I am in a  town used which used to be called Port Elizabeth. A few hours ago England used to have a queen by that name – may her legacy continue. 

7 thoughts on “Plains, Terrains and being Mobile – the road to Amatola

  1. Well, well, well – what a wonderful surprise! Of course it took a legendary set of cinematic blockbusters, a wonderfully coincidental theme, and a major athletic event to draw you out, but I for one could not have been happier to see your name pop into my inbox whatever the reason(s)! You’ll see tomorrow how difficult it would have been for you to respond to next week’s challenge with your story LOL! Have an amazing time, take breaks to enjoy the scenery and may your images live up to the expectations of your hiking companions my friend. I look forward to reading about the adventure in the not too distant future – fingers crossed!


  2. Dis pragtige foto’s Abrie. dis duidelik dat daar niks skeel met jou avontuurlus, jou humor of jou skryfkuns nie. Dit was lekker om saam met jou te hike hier uit die diepte van my leunstoel.


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