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On The Trail of the Otters

Knysna, Tsitsikamma, Wilderness
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On The Trail of the Otters

Unread post by Yoda » Fri Jan 08, 2016 5:00 pm

In November 2015, my father-in-law and myself did the Otter Trail.
I am not going to do a day by day trip report.
But will put down some thoughts and observations. Other people contemplating doing the trail might find this useful.

We flew into Jhb from the Uk, spent a few days with my family.
Then flew down to George.

Before leaving for SA, I had found a company online that does a drop off/pick up service to/from the start/finish.
They also rented a fully stocked back pack and sleeping bag etc. This company was very reliable and helpful. Highly recomended.
Anyone wanting details can pm me.

So for about 2 months before the trip, I started my fitness program.
3/4 hour walk every day and fintess "bootcamp" once or twice a week.
It was not enough! I really struggled at times. What "got" to me I think, was the weight of the backpack. I was not used to approx 1/3 of my weight extra.

The state of the overnight huts was generally clean, as were the overnight stops.
Well sort of. Closer to the start at Storms River it was excellent, but got progressively worse as each night went on.
The state of the last night was an absolute disaster. Being the last stop people left stuff they didn't want to carry on the last day. Rubbish everywhere!

And this probably contributed to the next issue.
The lady dropping us off warned us that there was a big male baboon and he comes into the camp (4) and steals food.
I was lying on the bed, knackered from the days walk. And the baboon came into the hut, climbed onto the table where we were preparing the food for that evening and started eating it.
There was an iron grate over the door, so SANP knew about him. But one of the other walkers had left this door open.
Anyway, he then knocked the food onto the floor, and carried on eating. I then tried to get up to run out of the hut and every time I got on the floor, he came for me! Eventually he climbed onto one of the other bunks and I managed to get out, and he left the hut carrying as much as he could a few minutes later. A really frightening experience.
We contacted SANP straight away, who said they knew about the problem but the baboon hid every time they came to "deal" with him
And we notified other rangers at the finish who denied any knowledge of there even being a problem!
It was a very very scary incident that could have ended badly. And if SANP haven ot yet dealt with the issue, it needs to be done as soon as possible, before someone gets hurt.

There are plenty of rivers to get drinking water from. And at the start we were warned which ones need to be treated and the reast being ok.
There are also taps at all over night stops
We followed the advice. And didn't drink from the river we were told not to.
I got a bit of a "dodgy tummy" towards the end. And with hindsight should have probably treated all the water we drank.

The Blaukrans crossing.
Don't under estimate it. It is about 10km into the 14 km day. (day 4)
Low tide for us was just after 11am, so we had to get there pretty smartly.
Although it was low tide, it was very very windy, and the storm surge up the deeper channel just by the opposite beach was deep. We were unprepared for that. Fortunately one of the other hikers helped us across. Take a survival bag, in which to put pack, sleeping bag boots. It is a must.
Also, once you cross the river, there is another 4 km to go, including a very steep climb.

Take a hiking stick. I found it very useful, especially when I got tired.

When we started the trail, the lady at check in said we had to go to De Vosselot to check out officially.
So at the end. After walking 7km, we then trekked for another 3 or so km around the lagoon at Natures Valley to go to De Vosselot.
Tbh, we should have just crossed at the beach, and gone on to the restaurant and pick up point. Loads of people who I have since spoken to all say we didn't need to go to DV.

I would also like to thank the Forum member who was so very helpful to me.
From food advice, to GPS maps. Thanks so much. It is really appreciated.

All in all, I must say, that it was a fantastic Life Experience.
Anyone thinking of doing it, should definately give it a go.

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Re: On The Trail of the Otters

Unread post by Yoda » Mon Jan 11, 2016 5:57 pm

Thanks everyone for the comments :thumbs_up:

Yes, it is certainly an amazing experience

What I didn't mention, is that one walks through Forest and Fynbos. And the Flora was fantastic
I know quite a bit about plants. So it was interesting to see some flowers that I had only seen in books.

As to wildlife.
Well the Baboon :evil:
There were some Genets around the camp on the first night. But they didn't bother us.

Some interesting birds- Knysna Louries (never seen before), and lots calling in the forests, that I never got to see.
And on the coast - gulls and terns

And for the first time in my life. One night I saw some Fireflies.

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Re: On The Trail of the Otters

Unread post by Yoda » Mon Jan 11, 2016 6:40 pm

Phillip - :thumbs_up:

Kaapsedraai - Yup, I must say in a way, my interests in the Flora helped me complete the hike.
There were times when I was "finished" both physically and mentally. When I almost thought I couldn't go on. But by focussing on looking out for some plants or birds etc I was able to distract myself and keep myself going.

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