Otter Hiking Trail

Experience unique coastal scenery, tidal pools rich in marine life, thick forest, and river mouths on the Otter Hiking Trail in the Tsitsikamma National Park. The five-day route with four overnight stops is unidirectional - from Storms River to Natures Va

Tour Code:
O/Sanp
Depart From:
Storms River   |   Ending at: Natures Valley
Departures: Daily (Subject to availability)
Duration: 5 Days
Country: South Africa
Type: Adventure |
Children: Allowed - see children policy

Client Reviews 

 






Otter Hiking Trail

Otter Hiking Trail

Otter Hiking Trail

Otter Hiking Trail

Otter Hiking Trail

 
 

The trail runs through the Tsitsikamma Forest in the magnificent Garden Route. It is a 5 day trail (4 nights) and offers the hiker majestic coastal scenery, tidal pools rich in marine life, indigenous forest and fynbos, Elandsbos, Storms River and Bloukrans River mouths, verdant valleys and breathtaking natural scenery.

The trail is provided with log huts with toilets, fire places and firewood, 2 huts per site, each hut accommodating 6 people, in bunks with mattresses.

The Otter Trail, built and run by the National Parks Board, is clearly marked with the Otter emblem painted yellow in rocky areas. The route follows the shore, and ascends 200 m to the coastal plateau where necessary.

It funnels through thick canopy forest and crosses streams and rivers. Although the stretches between overnight shelters are short (the longest day's hike is only 14 km), some of the slopes are steep.

However, there is enough time to walk slowly, enjoy the flowers, snorkel in the tidal pools and observe birds and other wildlife. The National Parks Board insists that hikers sleep at every hut, to prevent bookings becoming confused.

CONDITIONS OF THE OTTER TRAIL
The age restrictions of 12 (minimum age) and 65 (maximum age) years are used as an indicative ages, due to the level of physical demands of the Otter Trail.

All hikers from the ages of 65 and above will be requested to produce a recent doctor’s certificate that confirms their fitness level to undertake the challenging terrain of the Otter Trail.

All young hikers below 12 years of age should be accompanied by their parents/guardians who will be legal signatories to SANParks Indemnity Form to be submitted with copies of their identity document or passport at the Tsitsikamma reception desk before undertaking the Otter Trail.

Age allowed and fitness
The age restrictions of 12 (minimum age) and 65 (maximum age) years are used as an indicative ages, due to the level of physical demands of the Otter Trail.
All hikers from the ages of 65 and above will be requested to produce a recent doctor’s certificate that confirms their fitness level to undertake the challenging terrain of the Otter Trail.

All young hikers below 12 years of age should be accompanied by their parents/guardians who will be legal signatories to SANParks Indemnity Form to be submitted with copies of their identity document or passport at the Tsitsikamma reception desk before undertaking the Otter Trail.

Health & Clothing
Health
A yellow fever vaccination certificate is required from travellers over 1 year of age arriving within 6 days from infected areas.
Vaccination against typhoid is advised.
Malaria risk, predominantly in the malignant falciparum form, exists throughout the year in the low altitude areas (eastern part) of the Limpopo Province, eastern part of Mpumalanga (including the Kruger National Park) and northeastern KwaZulu/Natal as far south as the Tugela River. The risk is highest from October to May.
Bilharzia (schistosomiasis) is endemic in the north and east. Avoid swimming and paddling in fresh water - swimming pools which are chlorinated and maintained are safe.

Clothing
South Africa’s climate is generally sunny and pleasant. Winters are usually mild, although snow falls on the mountain ranges of the Cape, Eastern Cape, Free State and Natal and occasionally in lower-lying areas, when a brief cold spell can be expected throughout the country.

Required clothing: Lightweight cottons and linens and rain wear for summer. Warmer clothes are needed for winter.

Arrival
Guests arriving for the trail must book in at the Tsitsikamma National Park Office at Storms River Mouth.

Distances and Durations
The trail is 5 days and 4 nights.
Day 1 - 4.8 km (± 2 hours)
Day 2 - 7.9 km (± 4 hours)
Day 3 - 7.7 km (± 4 hours)
Day 4 - 13.8 km (± 6 hours)
Day 5 - 10.8 km (± 5 hours)

The total distance is 45 km
The Otter Trail Map is available on sale in the park office.

Water
There are numerous streams and springs throughout the length of the Otter Trail that are suitable for drinking purposes. Please note though that water from the Kleinbos River is not suitable for drinking (2nd day of trail). However, it may be wise to use purification tablets especially if you are not used to this water and where streams/rivers pass through communities such as the Coldstream/Witels River (3.6km mark of the 4th day) and the Lottering River (7.5km mark of the 4th day). There are rainwater tanks at each overnight hut that may also be used. However, due to erratic rainfall patterns, the level of these tanks may be low from time to time. Water quality is monitored on a quarterly basis.

Firewood
Firewood is provided, however it is not covered from rain and therefore may be wet. Hikers are required to carry their share of wood from a woodpile, close by on the trail. However, it sometimes happens that there is a buildup of excess wood not used by previous hikers that is placed under the steps of the huts, which is usually dry.

Cooking facilities
Each hut has a braai place with a sturdy steel grid. Within each hut there is a table on which food can be prepared. Hikers need to provide their own gas stoves and pots for cooking.

Other Facilities
There are two huts and a single toilet at each overnight stop. Each of the two huts contains 6 beds with mattresses – hikers must provide their own blankets/pillows/sleeping bags etc. Rubbish bins are provided at each of the overnight stops. Field rangers remove the rubbish regularly. There are benches present. Please only use biodegradable soaps on the trail. Hikers are not permitted to remove mattresses from the huts.

Tides
It is important to be aware of the dates and the times of the high and low tides prior to hiking the Otter Trail. This is especially important when it comes to crossing the bigger rivers such as the Elandsbos and the Bloukrans Rivers. It is the hiker’s responsibility to obtain tide tables in order to prepare for their hike.

The Bloukrans River Crossing:
The Bloukrans River crossing is on the 4th day of the Otter Trail. It is approximately 10km from Oakhurst Hut that takes about four and half hours (4.5) to reach. This river is best crossed during low tide. Once the river has been crossed it is approximately another 3.8km (two and a half hours) to the next overnight stop. It is wise to arrive well before low tide, so that enough time is available to plan your crossing.

If you are unable to cross the river, you can take the escape route labeled E6. This escape route branches to the right of the trail just before the Otter Trail descends to the Bloukrans River Mouth. The escape route climbs steeply to the top of the plateau. In the case of an emergency, hikers are advised to make their way to the top of the escape route and wait for collection by SANParks Rangers once contact has been made. Do not attempt to walk to the N2.

Safety precautions:
Safety items that can be included are the following:
- Small First Aid kit
- Survival Bag
- Thermal blanket
- Map of Trail
- Cellphone
- Rope

Cellphones and Reception
It is advisable that a cellphone is taken together with the following numbers:
SANParks Rangers:
Day 1 – 4: 072 917 5079
Day 5 – 6: 072 917 4474
Storms River Police - 10111
Park Headquarters - (042) 28 11 607
There is no cell phone reception along the Otter Trail. In the case of an emergency, hikers are advised to make their way to the top of the escape route where cell phone reception is available.

Emergency procedures
Escape routes are only to be taken in the case of an emergency. The escape routes are indicated as E 1 - 6 on the map. Cell phone reception may be reached at the top of the escape route. Hikers are to contact SANParks Rangers immediately upon reaching the top of the escape route and should then wait at the entrance to the escape route for collection.

Fitness
A fair degree of fitness is required as there are some steep sections, which together with a backpack can become tiring, especially after a few hours of hiking. One must be prepared to hike up to 13 kilometers a day, over rough terrain, steep ascents and descents and under any weather conditions.

Otter Hiking Trail Valid: 2016-11-01 to 2017-10-31
Rate Per Adult: ZAR 1300.00    
Rate per Single traveller: ZAR 1300.00 Rate Per Child: ZAR N/A

Tour Include
Rest huts for each of the 4 nights.

Tour Exclude
You have to provide your own bedding, food, utensils and equipment.

PLEASE NOTE - Bookings must be made well in advance as the trail is very popular. No wait listings.

Terms & Conditions
Cancelling or downgrading of a reservation 45 days or less prior to (or on) arrival will result in cancellation fees according to a sliding scale (based on the total reservation cost) which varies between 50% and 100%.

In the event of a non-arrival, the accommodation will be held until 9:00 the following day after which the reservation will be cancelled and the full amount paid for the reservation will be forfeited.
Pay particular attention to deposit due dates provided and keep bank processing delays in mind when considering EFT as payment option. No extension of payment due dates will be granted.
If the arrival date of the itinerary is postponed prior to or on date of arrival and then cancelled at a later stage, the fees that applied at the time of amendment will be enforced if the amount is greater than the new cancellation fees.

- cancellations of 30 days and more from the time of arrival: 100% refund
- cancellations between 29 to 15 days from the time of arrival: 50% of total cost be refunded
- cancellations 14 days or less, a no-show or early departure: 0% refund

Accommodation Pre-tour (10km radius)



Tsitsikamma Lodge
Tsitsikamma Lodge and Spa loftily set against the foothills of the Tsitsikamma Mountain range.
Grading: Guest Rating: (15 reviews)
From: R800.00 per person sharing

Post-tour accommodation (10km radius)



Tsitsikamma Lodge
Tsitsikamma Lodge and Spa loftily set against the foothills of the Tsitsikamma Mountain range.
Grading: Guest Rating: (15 reviews)
From: R800.00 per person sharing



Otter Hiking Trail Reviews

Reviewed by Hildegard K�nigk on over a year ago
Our entire group loved the hike. The facilities were exactly what we expected, and was completely adequate.
Rating: 4 Star Rating


Reviewed by Roenel Theron on over a year ago
It was excellant but everyone should know that it is very tough!! prepare well and it will be a pleasure doing the tour.
Rating: 5 Star Rating


Reviewed by Charmaine Rowland on over a year ago
It is beyond beautiful and although challenging and tough, it was an experience of a lifetime. Being out in Mother Nature with all the spectacular views is soul food. I do believe it is a must do for any hiker.
Rating: 5 Star Rating


Reviewed by Jannie on over a year ago
If you have not walked the Otter Trail yet, you must make a plan and get fit. Without it you will not enjoy this Trail. It was one of the best experiences I have done. Its beautiful, tough and absolutely stunning!
Rating: 5 Star Rating


Reviewed by Derine Potgieter on over a year ago
Thank you for the opportunity to give you feed back. The huts are very well equipped and the views are fantastic. Each day offers a new challenge and I think you should just warn following hiking groups of snakes as we got quite a lot of them, ant people with knee problems as the stairs are really a lot compared to other trials like the Fanie Botha or Outiniqua, it really was a physicall challenge and I think that you should put in that you should be fit doing this trail. If you could put a table in the “lapa`s” that would help fellow hikers as well, if it is a big group like ours, we like to play games around the camp fire, but was restricted to the huts as there were no tables. Over all we enjoyed it and our muscle aches are still here, it`s a very beautiful hike, but never again, the physical strength needed to climb out mountains has left me. Thank you for all of your trouble, and please thank all the rangers and personnel who keep the trail in such good order. Regards
Rating: 4 Star Rating


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