The otter trail can be booked around a year in advance, bookings are in high demand, especially if you want all 12 places on the hike.
The Otter trail bookings are done directly through South African National Parks (http://www.sanparks.org) up to a year in advance. It’s a five day/four night hike costing around ZAR 1,150 pp (2017 pricing) excluding the conservation fees which are payable on entry at the park. This fee if for the full 5 day hike per person. A maximum of 12 people are allowed on the trail per day, making this hike somewhat difficult to book. Availability can be viewed on their website or by calling the central reservations number on +27 (0)12 428 9111. You can choose to be added to a waiting list for earlier times or check with them regularly for any further cancellations.
Many third parties offer packages including the Otter hike fees on certain dates, travel as well as accommodation before and after the hike. The offered dates may suit you better.
Ideal times of the year for doing the Otter hike are somewhat of a personal preference. Some prefer the dryer months, whereas others prefer the warmer months. Average temperature and rainfall is as follows:
There are many travel options. Nearest airports are Port Elizabeth, George and a smaller one at Plettenberg. Car hire is also available at these airports but it’s highly recommended that you pre-book, as these airports and facilities are not available 24 hours.
The hike begins at the Tsitsikamma National Park- Storms River and ends at Natures Valley in a westward direction. Car parking is available at both camps. You should leave at least one car at the finish point to escort the drivers to collect their vehicles if necessary. Bear in mind there is a toll gate between these two camps.
A number of nearby places provide accommodation before and after the hike. Accommodation is available at both storms river and natures valley camps prior to and after the hike. This is separate from the trail fees. Alternatively there are a number of private accommodation places nearby but outside of the park. One such place is The Village Lodge, a decent establishment with great service. They also assist with transport to the start and end points.
Try for your own group of 12 people- this will assist with a whole lot of issues from motivation to sharing of communal items.
Day 4 of the hike includes the famous Bloukrans river crossing. This river is usually crossed at low tide. It takes approximately 6+ hours to get to the river mouth from the hut. It may be better to search the tide tables before you book the hike and get a low tide time somewhere after 11am on day. 4. This will assist as you would then walk most of the 6 hours in daylight as opposed to night time walking. Annual tide tables for nearby seas can be viewed on www.satides.co.za or http://www.kwathabeng.co.za.
If you are unfit (like me) try and book at least 6 months in advance. This should allow you to prepare a much more comprehensive training plan.
You may want to look at travel arrangements (flights etc) before booking the otter trail, especially during peak times.