If you have even a passing interest in hiking, make sure you do the Otter Trail at some point in your life – actually don’t delay another moment. Book the Otter Trail right now.
Bookings open 12 months in advance, and the popular dates go quickly (from spring to autumn, and many people like to plan for low tides at the main river crossings – specifically to hit the Bloukrans River for low tide somewhere around lunch time on the fourth day).
Check availability at the beginning of each month when the allocation for the following year opens. It’s a rolling allocation system so, for example, bookings for the entire month of February 2016 open on 1 February 2015. A maximum of 12 people are allowed on the trail per day.
When we did it (November 2014), we booked out the entire trail – R12000 for 12 people, plus a R120 community levy. So R1010 per person. There was also a R42 daily conservation fee (per person) to pay at the Storms River park gate – R42 x 4 nights on the trail. If you have a wild card (approx. R400) the conservation fee is waived, and the card obviously also grants free or reduced fees to all other SANParks for the year it is valid so if you don’t have one already this is a great time to buy.
The trail covers 42km over five days (four nights). It helps to be reasonably fit, but Himalayan thighs are not required. Although there are a lot of short ups and downs, the maximum elevation is only 156m. It’s tough in short bursts, but not as hard as I’d been led to believe. The daily distances are very manageable and there’s plenty of time to stop and rest, swim in the rivers and take in the views. The huts are well managed and maintained, the paths clearly marked, and the Tsitsikamma forest is just beautiful. You can probably tell I loved it. Even the more or less constant rain on days two and four didn’t get me down (it’s possible I was in the minority on this). If anything I think it made the forest even more enchanting.
Here are a few of my photos from the trail. I hope they inspire you.
- More Getaway blogs on the Otter Trail – what to pack, and what to expect
- Otter Trail 101 – a great blog that I found very useful when planning
The September 2015 issue of Getaway magazine is dedicated to all things walking and hiking, with inspiring stories, gear reviews and great competitions galore. Get your copy today.