July 22, 2024
The Otter Trail  – South African Flagship

This Hike is situated along the Garden Route near Storms river in the Eastern Cape, one of the most scenic areas in Southern Africa. If hiking in the outdoors is your passion, then this is one of the top hiking trails in South Africa, you can’t afford to miss.

This famous trail traverses 42 km of rugged coastline, with the booming breakers of the Indian Ocean on the one side and fynbos and indigenous rain forest on the other, crossing 11 rivers on route to Nature’s Valley. The six-day trip five day-trail with four overnight stops run from the Storms River Rest Camp to Nature’s Valley.

The trail is clearly marked with blue otter signs and painted otter spoor in rocky areas.

The Otter Trails runs through the Tsitsikamma National Park which stretches for 80 km along the scenic southern Cape coast and 5,5 km out to sea. The Storms River Mouth rest camp, at the start of the trail, provides overnight accommodation and has a shop and a restaurant, information centre, swimming pool for resident visitors, caravan and camp sites. Accommodation for the nights prior the and on completion of the trail, is included in the trail reservation.

The trail starts just west of the oceanettes at the western end of the Storms River rest camp and is clearly marked with blue otter signs and painted otter spoor in rocky areas.

Generally there are two overnight huts at each of the overnight stops. Each contains sleeping bunks with mattresses for six persons. Barbecue facilities and chemical toilets are provided. Firewood is left at the roadside from where it has to be carried to the huts. Water is available at the huts of in nearby streams.

Hikers are advised to fill their water bottles at the streams they cross. They have to carry the essentials, such as gas stoves, cooking utensils, crockery, cutlery and sleeping bags, themselves. Hikers should be reasonably fit as the Otter trail follows a rugged coastline with steep inclines.

Several rivers and estuaries also have to be crossed. No person should hike alone. A minimum of four people is recommended. Weather conditions should always be taken into consideration as it could change rapidly.

The trail starts about 2 km west of the restaurant and car park at Strorm’s River, and continues past the Goudgate and early Millwood claims. Follow the white arrows and otter signs as you clamber over the rocks past a Khoisan cave to a pool and waterfall near Ngubu’s Huts.

On the second day you climb onto the coastal plateau of indigenous forest and fynbos and may be lucky enough to see a whale or dolphin at Skilderkrans. The ascents and descents make this section of the trail very demanding although the distant covered is only about 8 km.

A detour down to Bloubaai is worth the effort. After a night at Scott’s Hut, the third day’s hike follows an undulating course and is one of the most scenic on the trail. Swimming in the Elandsbos River is superb. Oakhurst Hut comes into view after crossing the Lottering River either by swimming or boulder-to-boulder hopping higher up.

The fourth day’s hike, though longer than the others is less demanding. Time your crossing of the Bloukrans River for low tide. Even so, you may have to cross some distance inland and will need to return towards Andre’s Hut. The trail passes through wooded areas and fynbos between Andre’s and Nature’s Valley, to the cliff tops at the point. Take care at river crossings after heavy rains.

Reservations should be made long in advance because of the popularity of this trail, this trail is a real winner and booking should be considered about a year in advance.

Please take note that the trail is limited to 12 people at a time.