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 Post subject: Bloukrans River Crossing - Otter Trail
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 10:03 am 
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Hi All,
We completed our Otter trail yesterday and is still in awe of our wonderful experience - saw some awesome sightings such as 23 sharks in a gulley at low tide on day 3...a Seal catching a fish and numerous birds and bokkies!!
Do not be fooled - you need a survival bag to cross the Bloukrans river. We had to learn the hard (and dispappointing way!!) by being forced to use Escape E6 because not all of us had survival bags. The river is full, but even at low tide it is impossible to walk through. A fair amount of swimming is required and your bag has to float in a bag!! The crossing was safe to do but we had to abandon because we did not have bags! (UURGH, pure frustration!!) Some other small rivers also in flood like the Kleinbos river where again you need the bag!

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 08, 2008 6:15 pm 
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Location: Swaziland. The smallest country of the S. Hemisphere
Gunsmoke, I am sorry to hear that you had to use the escape route due to not having survival bags. Thanks for posting that info here too.

On a positive note though you did have some awesome sightings.

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Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 8:32 pm 
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Just shows you how unpredictable nature can be - last year in January the rivers were much lower and the Bloukrans crossing was a breeze at low tide. I'm surprised to hear that even the Kleinbos could be difficult to cross. Here I'm crossing the Bloukrans at low tide - which incidentally slotted in perfectly at 2pm. ( I only realise now how lucky we were !! )
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 Post subject:
Unread postPosted: Tue Jan 22, 2008 10:15 pm 
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Herman, you were indeed lucky. Its just so dependant on the time and the tides.

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Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 4:30 pm 
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We did the trail in Sept 2007, Bloukrans was an experience :lol: Some of our party walked across with their bags on their heads and used "route B" which has got a climb over some rocks, because some of us had survival bags we decided to use them for fun and go "route A" (the recommended route :roll: ) which goes a little way into the mouth and turns up a "runway" out of the water. The river was at its lowest and was waist deep, however three waves hit us as we were rounding the point to the runway. The third wave went over my head :shock: In the process two people got thrown into the rocks and hurt their shins quite badly and two survival bags got torn (everything got wet and we had to wait for things to dry - a wet pack is ridiculously heavy) - In my opinion "route B" should be the recommended route as the waves have lost a lot of their energy by that time and the climbing is far more controllable than rogue waves and hidden rocks.


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Unread postPosted: Thu Jan 24, 2008 5:15 pm 
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tigerclaw thank you for posting this bit of advice. That coast is quite famous for rogue waves, I have experienced one myself and was hurt on the rocks too, but nearer the end of the Otter Trail. Rather be safe than sorry, and respect the sea.

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 Post subject: Re: Bloukrans River Crossing - Otter Trail
Unread postPosted: Mon Nov 17, 2008 4:33 pm 
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We are doing the Otter in the first week of December 08, I see there are two recommended routes for crossing the Bloukrans, A and B. Does anyone have the details of the two routes?

Thanks
V


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 Post subject: Re: Bloukrans River Crossing - Otter Trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 2:28 pm 
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Location: George
The route closest to the sea have always worked the best in the past...but it seems like the river has been big the last few weeks. I've done it in February and had to swim at low tide!


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 Post subject: Re: Bloukrans River Crossing - Otter Trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 3:36 pm 
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I've got some questions, not addressed at anyone in particular, so anyone is welcome to chip in.

Is the more inland route well marked and easy to find, or is it an unofficial route? What makes it harder? Deeper water or more rocks to climb or worse waves?

Thanks,

Colin


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 Post subject: Re: Bloukrans River Crossing - Otter Trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Nov 19, 2008 4:49 pm 
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ColinP wrote:
I've got some questions, not addressed at anyone in particular, so anyone is welcome to chip in.

Is the more inland route well marked and easy to find, or is it an unofficial route? What makes it harder? Deeper water or more rocks to climb or worse waves?

Thanks,

Colin

Well Colin, I'd say there is one thing that works better than any advice about the Bloukrans ( or any river crossing on the Otter ) and that is your own observations and common sense ! There are no markers indicating where the routes are - they are just a rough guide. So when you get there spend some time to observe the tide and the surf before you decide where to cross. We got to Bloukrans about an hour before low tide, had lunch ( it was about 1pm ) and two of us then walked / waded through without backpacks just to get the "feel" of the tide, current and underfoot conditions. They came back and we discussed where it would be best to cross and we all get through safe and dry ! We did take the more inland route, but it might well be that the other route works better on the day that you cross ? Remember that conditions change after every flood - the sand shifts and the river might be deeper / shallower at a certain point than before the flood. Low tide also varies a lot - sometimes low is very low - let's say less than half a metre and sometimes low might be almost a metre ! So try to be there some time before low tide, observe and use your own common sense - Enjoy !!


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 Post subject: Re: Bloukrans River Crossing - Otter Trail
Unread postPosted: Tue Dec 16, 2008 10:45 pm 
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ColinP - When you do the trail they give you a one page document (if memory serves) of general rules and so on. It also has detail and drawings of the more serious river crossings (the drawings show the optional routes across the rivers quite clearly) - As far as Bloukrans there is actually an "A" (via the mouth) a "B" which is more directly across (short of the mouth with a bit of a rock scramble) and a "C" which is a serious rock climb (there is a long vertical hanging rope to try and help you) - however I dont believe route C is an option without a proper harness etc as a fall would be very serious / lethal. (the route guide also strongly discourages it) - But as Herman said common sense is best approach. (we got soaked but had a great experience and a good laugh)


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 Post subject: Re: Bloukrans River Crossing - Otter Trail
Unread postPosted: Wed Dec 17, 2008 11:06 am 
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Thanks for the replies.

We managed the crossing in the end - thanks so much to the great bunch who were sharing the trail with us for all their help.

We arrived to see a very different Bloukrans mouth to that which was there before - there is no sand left on the beach, just rocks. The channel at low tide was about 40 - 50m across, and between waist and chest deep between waves. (Our low was a couple of days after the neap tides, so it will go lower than that). This is the B route on the map. The A route is currently out at sea :-)

We had a couple of survival bags, and some rope, and between the 12 of us on the trial managed to get all the packs across dry, but it did take over an hour ferrying them in the two bags. It's possible that you might have made it dry with a pack balanced on your head, but only if you were very, very lucky with a long break between waves. The ability to tread water with a 15kg pack on your head would also help.

Something to float the bags (and keep them dry) and some rope are definitely needed at the moment. Perhaps with time the sand will build up again and people can stroll across at low tide with the gentle waves lapping around their kness, but I suspect it'll be a while before that is the case.

Colin


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