When they say you have to be ‘reasonably fit’ to be able to do the Otter Trail it means you better be able to carry all your equipment across rugged terrain for five days. However, as any serious hiker will confirm, the Otter Trail is simply the most glorious hiking trail in South Africa.
The Otter Trail is for people who really want to hike and enjoy the extraordinary landscape as they go along, who want to immerse themselves in beauty and do not mind getting sweaty and having aching muscles at the end of each day. In other words if you spend more time thinking about what outfit to wear to go hiking than actually hiking itself, maybe this isn’t the one for you.
You are going to have five days and four nights of nature cramming all of her sights, scents and sounds into your body and mind. You are going to be so tired each night that’ll you’ll sleep like the dead only to do it again the next morning. But one thing is certain: you will go to sleep exhilarated.
The Otter Trail runs through the Tsitsikamma National Park near Plettenberg Bay on the East Coast and is well organized by the National Parks Board and they make it as convenient as possible for hikers. The trail is clearly marked with a blue otter signs and painted otter spoor on rocky outcrops as guide.
The Otter Trail starts out from the Storms River Rest Camp and you will walk along 42 kilometres of stunning coastline, through rugged terrain with the ocean one side and the indigenous rainforest inland. You will cross 11 rivers and you may have to swim the Bloukrans River on day four, so remember a waterproof bag for your equipment. On the fifth day you will reach the end of the trail in Nature’s Valley.
There are two overnight huts for each of the four nights you will spend on the trail with bunk beds and mattresses, cooking facilities and a toilet for each hut. You want to wash or bath? Bring a cake of biodegradable soap and jump into the nearest stream; nature provides.
The daily hikes are not too long, the exception is day four with a 14-kilometer hike, so take your time, don’t rush or you will miss out in so much to see and do. Sit on the cliffs and watch the whales out at sea and the dolphins coming right into the breakers.
Snorkel in the rock pools and take breaks to watch the birds in the treetops. Drink in the sights of stunning beaches, majestic rock formations and waterfalls as you hike one of the most beautiful places on earth. Go home with aching muscles and scraped knees but with a soul filled to bursting; that is after all what you came for.
Additional Reading – Read a more recent article at: Forget about its name – there’s nothing cute or cuddly about the Otter Trail
- SA-Venues – The Otter Trail
- Garden Route Information
- Accommodation in the Garden Route
- Eastern Cape Hiking Trails