Okay, let me start by saying this…The Otter Trail is NOT for sissies!!! Holy heck, if I hadn’t lost 15kg before I walked this trail in order to accommodate my 15kg backpack I might still be on it. I was by no means fit BUT I did make it to the end in one piece and thoroughly enjoyed the famous shooter known as “The Otter’s Asshole” at the restaurant at the end, so it can be done!
The only advantage you’ll have by being fitter than I was is that you probably won’t suffer with muscles so sore that you feel like the Incredible Hulk is ripping them right out of your legs with his bare hands!!! I even had to persuade another hiker (who happened to be a masseuse) to massage the lactic acid from my legs while I lay face down in the sand biting on my travel pillow to try and drown the screams from the pain… anyway, enough of the scary stuff…
The Otter Hiking Trail is one of South Africa’s most popular trails and is known world-wide. It is a five-day trail, commencing at the Storms River Mouth Rest Camp and stretching westward as far as the Groot River estuary at Nature’s Valley, a distance of about 43 km. Accommodation is provided in four beautifully appointed overnight camps, i.e. Ngubu (named after the first Game Ranger sergeant of the Tsitsikamma National Park), Scott (a Park’s official who assisted with the initial layout of the trail), Oakhurst (the name is derived , from the homestead above the huts originally built by the Whitcher family) and André (named after André Kok, a former camp manager in the Tsitsikamma National Park).
The accommodation is pretty simple and there is no electricity which means that you’ll get your full soul refuel in absolute wilderness with blankets of stars to ogle at every night. You have to carry all your own supplies from food to water to bedding to clothing so pack carefully and choose a comfortable backpack cause trust me, you’ll be cursing the darn thing after your first 3km into the hike if you don’t. If you’re the type that likes a sundowner at the end of the day, rather buy some tot packs as opposed to anything in a bottle as it adds on a hefty amount of weight and finishing it all on night 1 is just NOT an option! I was eventually trading snack bars for tots I became so desperate LOL.
This hike covers some of the most incredibly beautiful coastline of South Africa and you’ll go far to beat the goosebumps you’ll get from the places you’ll see, not to mention the fact that you’ll be a part of only a few handfuls of people in the world who will ever get to see it! It can only be described in superlative terms…
The environment is unique in that it has the best of both worlds – the incredible beauty of the forest as well as pristine coastal shores. The trail often meanders very close to the coastline (sometimes a little too close for comfort in my opinion as one fatal slip and you may not make it to the end) and clear pools that teem with a variety of marine life revealing a world of kaleidoscopic colours and an underwater world which is ideal for snorkelling. Sudden changes in weather conditions result in interesting contrasts, which provide exhilarating challenges to photographers and hikers alike!
We stayed our first night at The Village Lodge in Storm’s River, which was fantastic and then arranged a transfer to the start the next morning. We were 4 friends hiking together which made for some great laughs and evening stories around the campfire. The 2 huts sleep 6 people in each, so if you’re not into sharing or making new friends then try to rather gather a group of 6 to fill up one hut or even better, get 12 friends together for the trip of a lifetime!
You need to book about a year in advance so don’t wait!!! Central Reservations: +27 (0) 12 426 5111 / Fax +27 (0) 12 343 0905 / e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org