Otter Trail

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One of the best hikes in the world is the

Otter Trail

Sometimes called Otter Trail – Tsitsikamma or Otter Trail – Garden Route

The Otter Trail along the Tsitsikamma coast is probably the most popular hike in the country. Lush forests, rugged shorelines, mountain streams and waterfalls and fragrant fynbos make this a special one. It’s strenuous, with lots of ups and downs …

msmap

AT A GLANCE

  • South Africaone of the great coastal hikes of the world
  • Storms River Mouth to Nature’s Valley
  • 42km
  • 5 days, 4 nights
  • clean huts, no tenting
  • permits are difficult to get as only 12 hikers start each day. Recommended to book 12 months in advance.
South Africa Tourism

South Africa Tourism

Why We Like This Hike

  • gorgeous cliff top walking, returning to sea level to cross many rivers
Roger Gordon

Roger Gordon

  • side trips down rivers for swimming recommended
Roger Gordon

Roger Gordon

    • consider bringing a snorkel
    • named after the elusive otter, which is found in fresh water and at sea.
    • rich variety of bird and animal life including Cape Clawless Otter, Seal, Caracal, Genet, Leopard, Duiker, Bushbuck, Bushpig, Badger, Vervet Monkey, Baboon, Dolphin and Whale.
    • there are two huts and a single toilet at each overnight stop. Each of the two huts contains 6 beds with mattresses – hikers must provide their own blankets/pillows/sleeping bags etc.

toilet

  • cold showers are available at all huts

hut

  • trash bins are provided at each of the overnight stops. Field rangers remove the rubbish regularly.
  • malaria free — though we saw almost no mosquitoes over the week.
  • numerous streams and springs are suitable for drinking. But it’s still recommended to treat water. Rainwater tanks at each overnight hut. Due to erratic rainfall patterns, the level of these tanks may be low from time to time.
  • each hut has braai with a steel grid. Within each hut there is a table on which food can be prepared. Hikers need to provide their own gas stoves and pots for cooking.
  • mobile phone reception is intermittent along the Otter Trail. Reception may be picked up when the trail reaches up onto the plateau or when the coastline juts out to sea. There is no reception at the overnight huts.

Storms River Police – 10111
Park Headquarters – (042) 28 11 607

Considerations

  • It is important to be aware of the dates and the times of the high and low tides to hike the Otter. This is especially important when it comes to crossing the bigger rivers such as the Lottering and the Bloukrans Rivers.
  • tide charts are given to you at registration
... one way to cross the Bloekrantz

… one way to cross the Bloukrans

  • If you are unable to cross Bloukrans, there is a higher escape route. Check with Rangers if you get struck overnight on the wrong side.
  • obviously, all water sensitive items must be kept in waterproof bags
  • recommended age 12 (minimum) to 65 (maximum)
  • there’s a good chance you’ll see poisonous snakes
  • In 2012 wardens offered to hike in meat and drinks for your last night. A menu with prices and a telephone was available in Day 3′s hut. A small service fee  charged. By 2013 that service had been cancelled.

Cost

In 2013 for my booking from overseas I paid:

  • 860 Rand ($95) – 4 nights in Camps
  • 480 Rand ($53) – conservation fees

Routes

Day 1 = 4.8km (± 2 hours) – tips
Day 2 = 7.9km (± 4 hours) – tips
Day 3 = 7.7km (± 4 hours) – tips
Day 4 = 13.8km (± 6 hours) – tips
Day 5 = 6.8km (± 3 hours) – tips

Total Distance = 42.5km

Bloubaai beach - good LUNCH spot - day 2

Bloubaai beach – good LUNCH spot – day 2

Otter Trail is possibly the most desired hike in South Africa, but it’s only one of many treks along that coast. Check the other Garden Route Hiking Trails.

If you can’t get a permit for Otter, don’t let that stop you.

Trekking Guides

Logistics

First check Otter Trail Availability

Next, make a reservation.

reservations@sanparks.org

Telephone: +27 (0) 12 426 5111
Fax: +27 (0) 12 343 0905

Hikers Haven at Natures Valley offer a transport service for hikers starting the trail.(+27 (0) 44 531 6805

Otter Trail Transfers is another option  082 3911 140 or email glenn (a) ottertrailtransfers.co.za

On arrival at Storms River Mouth report to the park reception. Check in.  Pay your conservation levy, if needed. And watch a video presentation.

You might want to stay at Storms River Mouth Rest Camp the night prior to starting the hike. As we did.

reception-building

On finishing the adventure in Nature’s Valley, you could stay at a hotel or hostel there. Or arrange transportation away.

The Baz Bus does stop in Nature’s Valley on request.

Local Information

Best Trekking Guidebooks

There are no dedicated Otter hiking guidebooks as of 2013.

Otter Trail

Best Travel Guidebooks

Other Recommended Books

Best Maps

  • TBD

Online Maps

Best Web Pages

Best Trip Reports

Rick

Movies

Click PLAY or watch Jens Niere’s Video trip report 2012  on YouTube.

Check our blog for posts tagged “Otter Trail”.

Questions? Suggestions? Leave a comment on this page. Our editors will reply.

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10 thoughts on “Otter Trail

  1. Watch out for snakes on day five of the hike when hiking through the fynbos vegatation, also keep an eye on crows raiding your backpack when crossing esp the Bloukrans river. They are notorious for damaging packs in search of food. Also look out for smaller predators at esp Andre Hut at night. They will snatch esp meat from the barbecue area. Lovely hike.

  2. Walking the beautiful Waterfall trail on my own on 20 April 2015, I met a group of 6 women on their frist day of the Otter trail. I am interested in how they liked the rest of the trail. In case you know any of this groups’ members, kindly e-mail llrr1957@hotmail.com. Walk on!

  3. My husband and I plan to do the Otter Trail in March, 2016. Do you see any reason why we couldn’t combine day 4 and day 5? Especially if low tide is early? I understand staying on track on previous days because of the hut situation, but it would be nice to finish a day early to have a little more time to see other things in the area (we didn’t get our permits on the day we would have liked, are are a bit pressed for time). Thank you!

  4. Yep, loved the Otter Trail. I can see why i had to book a year in advance but really well worth it. I would love to hike it again but with so many trails to choose from in South Africa its a difficult decision. When i researched the Otter I found an app called Trail Guide South Africa that was very helpful finding trail info and other details. Maybe it will help someone else ? http://www.trailguide.co.za

  5. Pingback: Missing Africa – Vocabulary in Chunks

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