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Experience the Garden Route on Foot - The picturesque Otter Trail

Posted on Thursday, 17th Jul 2014

The Otter Trail is considered to be one of the most beautiful multi-day tours worldwide and is very popular among tourist and the locals. The 42km hiking trail is situated in the Tsitsikamma National Park and is regarded to be quite challenging, but definitely worth it! You need to apply for permits well in advance, as entrance to this area is highly governed in order to conserve the area; this also reflects the exclusivity of this experience.

Otter Trail Skilderkrans

The trail starts at the mouth of Storms River and ends in Nature’s Valley. You will walk along the beautiful coast of the Indian Ocean and Garden Route, cross several rivers and pass the tropical rainforest of the Tsitsikamma National Park. The nights are spent in simple huts which completes the experience of an authentic nature adventure.

For those looking only for a single day route, do not despair! You can take the Waterfall Trail which is about 2.8km long. This part of the trail doesn’t require a permit and is also definitely worth it. Remember to bring your swimming gear, as you can enjoy bathing in the basin of the waterfall at the end of the trail.

Here is the breakdown of the 5-day Route:

Otter Trail map

Day 1: Storms River – Ngubu (4.8km)

The first part of the trail is 4.8kms long and normally takes about 3 hours to accomplish. Highlights of the first day are a large cave, where it is worth taking a break here to explore this natural feature, and the majestic waterfall.

Day 2: (7.9km) Ngubu – Scott Hut

The second day of the Otter trail is probably the most varied and beautiful walk of the whole trail. In Skilderkrans you might even be able to see Dolphins or Whales from a scenic vantage point. Later the trail descends to cross the beautiful Kleinbos River before reaching the sandy shores of Blue Bay which is an ideal place for lunch).

Hut

Day 3: (7.7km) Scott Hut – Oakhurst Huts

The third day of the trail starts with the crossing of the Geelhoutbos River and follows the rocky coastline. The trail continues along the shore until the Lottering River comes into view with the Oakhurst huts situated on the far bank.

Day 4: (13.8km) Oakhurst Huts – Andre Huts

The fourth day of the Otter trail is also the longest. The need to reach and cross the Bloukrans River at low tide makes this day probably the most difficult depending on the time of the low tide.

Otter Trail Coast

Day 5: (6.8km) Andre Huts – Nature’s Valley

The last day is a relatively easy hike and leads along the edge of the cliffs before crossing the Helpmekaar River. The trail ends with a beautiful walk across a sandy beach towards Nature’s Valley.

Important notes:

  • Plan ahead to avoid disappointment! The application period is about 1 year before due to high popularity and volume restrictions.
  • Only individuals between the ages of 12 and 65 years are allowed to walk the trail
  • Tides: It is important to be aware of the dates and the times of the high and low tides prior to hiking the Otter Trail.
  • In the odd case of need, there are several emergency exits, leading directly to the main road, N2.

Waterfall

What to pack:

  • Small First Aid kit
  • Survival Bag
  • Thermal blanket, water filter,  pots, adequate clothing
  • Map of Trail
  • Cellphone
  • Rope
  • Sun protection

ATC African Travel Concept is your expert travel partner for tailor-made experiences. We have various hiking tours on offer, and our consultants are available to offer you the best programs for soft adventure. Please contact us if you have any enquiries, or would like to make a booking.

Posted in Unsung Marvels of Southern Africa

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