Otter

Otter Trail

It was almost a year ago that we booked our Otter Trail hike. The trail is so popular that people phone the SANParks office every morning to secure one of the twelve daily permits, a year in advance.

It’s understandable that permits are so sought after. The Otter Trail is the oldest and arguably the most well known hiking route in South Africa. Both of our parents hiked the Otter and loved it. Friends who have hiked it rave about the scenery, and a plethora of blog posts and articles tend to share this excitement. Now it’s our turn.

Beryl, MG's mom, on her Otter hike in 1991. 

Beryl, MG's mom, on her Otter hike in 1991. 

Spencer, MG's dad, taking in some of the views.

Spencer, MG's dad, taking in some of the views.

Some of the spectacular cliffs dropping into the ocean. This picture (slide) was taken on Henk & Ansie's hike in 1978.

Some of the spectacular cliffs dropping into the ocean. This picture (slide) was taken on Henk & Ansie's hike in 1978.

The Otter is a coastal hike, covering 43 kilometres over five days. It’s not far at all, but the route is notorious for gaining and losing the same 200 odd metres in elevation, between sea level and the plateau at the top of the coastal cliffs, multiple times a day. Our legs are in for a serious workout. 

The trail starts at Storms River Mouth and ends at Nature’s Valley. It hugs the coastline and you’re treated to outstanding ocean views for the entire hike. Even the loos are fitted with one-way glass and overlook the ocean.

Another unique feature of this trail is the two river crossings that need to be timed carefully to coincide with low tide. On day three, we need to cross the Elands Bos River at 07:25am, which will require a 6am start to allow for an hour’s hike and the half-an-hour buffer time suggested by SANParks. Our planned 08:12am Bloukrans River crossing on day four will require and even earlier start, at 4am, to complete the four and a half hours of hiking. On our star trail photography hikes we did some night-hiking with headlamps and it's a unique experience we're looking forward to.

Henk, Eras' dad, smuggling a waterproofed backpack and a moustache through the Bloukrans River.

Henk, Eras' dad, smuggling a waterproofed backpack and a moustache through the Bloukrans River.

We will create a guide to everything Otter-related and will post it after our hike: travel logistics, what to take & where to stay, complete with downloadable elevation charts, tide charts and maps. MG is creating some lightweight, high calorie dinners and breakfasts, which we will share the recipes of. We will also include some of the lesser-known tips on what to take, for example diving goggles and a snorkel, things that are usually not part of a (normal) hiking kit.

Our hike starts in two weeks: from Sunday the 1st of May to Thursday the 5th. Keep an eye on our Instagram feed for some pretty ocean views.

Ansie, Eras' mom, at the end of the trail with Nature's Valley in the background. 

Ansie, Eras' mom, at the end of the trail with Nature's Valley in the background.