day 4 – Otter Trail, South Africa

Trip report by site editor Rick McCharles

day 0 | 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | info page

Day 4 = 13.8km (± 6 hours) – Oakhurst huts – Bloukrans crossing – Andre huts

Crossing the Bloukrans River is the crux of the trip. It’s extremely important to arrive there before low tide.

At low tide in good weather, you might barely get your shorts wet. But people have drowned here. 😦

Low tide was 9:19am on our day. It takes 4-6 hours to get there.

Therefore, Rod and Jess left at 03am.

The Marques family at 05:30am.

early morning

It was 6:45am, in day light, as I walked away from camp.

A mad rush to get to the river crossing in time, I didn’t take many photos that morning. But had to stop for this picture.

Bones

We all managed our time well, arriving at the infamous Bloukrans river crossing right at low tide, 09:19am.

From above, I saw Scott checking route A, by far the BEST way to cross the river.

Bloukrans crossing

Conditions were perfect.

Low tide. Low river. No wind. 🙂

stairs to Bloukrans

This family had crossed the Bloukrans the year before in far worse conditions.

family Bloukrans

smiling

They found it EASY this time.

Route A has you wade out via this sandy surge channel.

surge channel

By contrast, the swim and exit via Route B (mid-tide) looked horrorshow.

You are supposed to haul yourself up out of the freezing Indian Ocean on one of two ropes.

This one gets you to the low traverse.

rope Route B

The other rope leads you to climb up the cliff, instead.

… I wouldn’t want to try either.

There are Routes C and D for very high water. 😦 … Don’t contemplate either.

Best wait up to 12 hours for the next low tide. Take Route A.

If you are too late in the day, be aware that there is a land route up and over the river known by Rangers. Telephone if you want information on that.

Once across the Bloukrans, you are much relieved. Guaranteed to finish the Otter. It’s easy from there.

rocky shoreline

Studying the near useless map given you at the start. And the look of the coast, … I gambled that it might be possible to stay low and make it to Andre huts along the coast.

After all, it was low tide. Very early morning.

Why not give it a try?

Sadly, the very last headland is impassable. I made it this far — then had to either backtrack. Or scramble up the cliff to regain the trail.

Rick headland

I scrambled.

Some exposure. Not recommended.

Andre

Arriving at the Andre huts early, we had plenty of time to explore.

rocky

bird rock

Over 5 days we saw no big marine life. But plenty of birds.

shells

Check the standard facilities.

cold shower
cold shower
loo with a view
loo with a view

toilet

My last night. Luxury mattress.

tent mat

This was the only local visitor to my tent over 5 days.

deer

A female “buck“, I assume.

We celebrated our last evening with a bonfire.

bonfire

Washed completely away by morning.

Goodnight Otter.

Otter

more of my photos from day 4

on to day 5

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