The Otter Trail – South Africa
The Otter trail is officially the oldest and undoubtedly the most iconic hiking trail in South Africa. The trail, which runs along the spectacular coastline between the Storms River mouth and Nature’s Valley, was opened in 1968 and is considered one of the finest multi-day trails in the world. It is named after the shy, mostly nocturnal, Cape Clawless Otter which inhabits the estuaries and streams of the South African coast.
Beauty: The definitive 5/5
Difficulty rating: 7/10: The Otter might not be as demanding as some other longer trails, like the Amatola or Outeniqua, but it should not be underestimated. It has some steep climbs and descents, as well as technical river crossings.
Technical rating: Mostly standard trail walking interspersed with “walk-through” river crossings. However, the main technical difficulty of the trail is the Bloukrans River crossing which involves swimming across the river and climbing up steep terrain by use of a rope.
The distance is below average for 5-day hikes (just about 45km) but the variety and splendour of the landscapes make it truly mesmerising. Any fit hiker will probably be able to finish each day before lunch time, but the trail offers so much to savour along the way that days are blissfully spent swimming in rivers and streams, walking through dense coastal forest, relaxing on beautiful beaches, gawking at huge waves crashing into the shoreline, enjoying the rich floral, insect and bird life, exploring the underwater world in tidal pools, or gazing at dolphins playing in the waves.
Start and finish
One has to report to the Storms River Park Reception to pay conservation fees, get the trail map and watch a short video which highlights the trails most recent changes. The trail starts nearby at a parking area.
The trail finishes in Nature’s Valley. There is a compulsory check-out at De Vasselot Rest camp where Otter Trail Certificates are also issued.
Group size and bookings
The trail takes a maximum of 12 hikers at a time. If not fully booked by a group, the remaining spots will be available for booking by the public. It should also be noted that the minimum and maximum ages are 12 and 65 respectively.
It is essential to plan and book long before the time – the trail is normally booked for up to a year in advance in all except the winter months. There are, from time to time, spots open on short notice due to cancellations.
If you like to include the trail into your South Africa itinerary, contact us for more info.