Everything about The Otter Trail Hike

Anyone who has completed the Otter Trail would concur that it is among the finest hiking trails in the world. It is not that difficult for most to do.

For many, this hike ranks high on their “bucket-list”

This blog is intended to prepare the many novice, unwilling or unfit potential hikers to explore the wonders of the Otter Trail. This blog can be an over-kill for the seasoned professionals!

This blog includes information on how to book, when to go, a trail overview, estimated costings, a very detailed equipment packing list with estimated weighting, first hand day by day detailed information, as well as other unique and very useful information, tips and downloads to make your trip much easier and rewarding.

All of this information has been documented after many months of research as well as during the hikes. We hope you find it useful.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your own tips and experiences once you have completed the hike.

Why hike the Otter Trail?

It is a multi-day hiking trail in the Eastern Cape area of South Africa. It ranges 4 nights and 5 days hiking from Storms River Mouth to Natures Valley spanning around 45 Km's. The trail traverses through scenic landscape, at times through rugged colourful rocks and other times through lush green scented forests, never drifting far from the shoreline, but often climbing steeply and then descending to the beach or a river crossing. It ranges in elevation from sea level to heights of more than 150m often providing unparalleled views.  A challenging but well-rewarded hike.

It is named after the Cape Clawless Otter which could rarely be seen on the trail. The flora and fauna on this hike is abundant and includes Dolphins, Whales, Rock Dassies, Knysna Loerie’s, Fynbos and King Protea’s. The shoreline boasts some unique and remote beaches, well suited for photography as well as snorkelling.

The trail is 5 days and 4 nights and includes basic rustic overnight huts situated at extreme viewpoints along the linear route. The following distances between the various camps are indicated as follows

·         Day 1 - 4.8km
·         Day 2 - 7.9km
·         Day 3 - 7.7km
·         Day 4 - 13.8km
·         Day 5 - 10.8km
·         Total Distance - 45km

One has to be relatively fit for this hike. Whilst the daily distances are short, the trail has some serious altitude from sea level to the frequent clifftops. There are no porters to assist with your luggage and you have to keep your own hiking gear with you throughout the hike. Many hikers who struggle on this hike attribute their difficulties to over packing and undertraining. Take along your smile, sleeping bag, food, water (available at certain points) and other basic equipment. See the equipment page to help you keep your backpacks light.

Only 12 permits are available daily directly from SANPARKS, so the Otter Trail Hike has probably the most demand for any hike in South Africa and probably in Africa too together with mount Kilimanjaro and a few others. Expect to book it a year in advance. It is best to book all 12 spots with like-minded friends or family.

It is South Africa’s favourite and most famous trails and arguably the most iconic of all.