03/07/2013 07:10 am ET Updated May 07, 2013

An Unexpected Journey To South Africa's Fantasy Kingdom (PHOTOS)

The town of Hogsback, perched amid the Amatola mountains in South Africa's Eastern Cape province, has gained fame among locals, travelers and nerds for inspiring J.R.R. Tolkien to write works such as The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit.

Unfortunately, this region's claim to fame is just as mythical as the lands and creatures Tolkien created during his career: The author left South Africa, his country of birth, at the age of three after his father died and never returned.

In spite of this, the mysterious forests, hills and bodies of water that surround Hogsback, which is located about two hours north of the city of East London, seem more like a fantasy world than like South Africa.

South Africa's Fantasy Kingdom