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Otter Trail- Info and Advice

Knysna, Tsitsikamma, Wilderness
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Joined: Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:37 pm

Re: Otter Trail

Unread post by suescott33 » Tue Feb 24, 2009 12:53 pm

Hi there,
We finished the Otter Trail about 3-weeks ago and I'd like to share a few things:

1. Take Water Purification drops. The water at Huts 2 and 3 was discoloured so you feel safer with the drops (plus there is a huge drought on at the moment so the water at the huts is old).

2. Whatever you hear, TAKE PROPER SURVIVAL BAGS FOR THE BLOUKRANS CROSSING. We only had two bags in our group and the Bloukrans Crossing was hectic. We got there 20-minutes BEFORE low tide and our first crossing at the exact time of low-tide was neck deep and then we had to swim for all our other crossings. I have heard that the floods have changed the shape of the rivers down there (not sure how true this is), but I pooh-poohed the Bloukrans crossing and reading this forum just a few days before the trail, I thought some of the posts were exaggerated. They are not. You MUST take the crossing seriously. Have a plan in your group of how you're going to do it. When you get to the other side (Option B) you will be on a rockface and you cannot tread water while trying to push your bag up onto the rocks. You will need a point person retrieving the bags at that end, and you will need to float your bags over. On our crossing we had several sand sharks cruising around us, (I have heard that there are Zambi's at the river mouths because of the drought situation...not sure why this would make them congregate there??!) which can cause some panic. Our group was made up of calm, very fit and seasoned hikers, and we were all panicking and yelling towards the end of our crossing. Make sure you have a plan A and a plan B.

3. Do the Otter tradition of swimming in each and every body of water that you can safely swim in! We did and it made the days longer, but I'm so glad we was awesome! We had two snorkels and masks in our group which was fab. We snorkeled in the bay at Hut 3 and saw so much there. Really lovely.

4. Oh check that your bags for the crossing do not have holes in them BEFORE you leave. One of our bags had a hole in it.

5. Stargaze. The last hut has a rocky bay and there is a huge flat rock in-front of hut B which is lovely to lie on after sunset to stargaze. We saw some amazing things. The light pollution from Plett isn't great, but this flat rock on the ocean is such a stunning place to stargaze.

Hope this helps...

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Re: GPS Co-ordinates for Otter Trail

Unread post by potgie » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:49 pm

You can also get it from the Google map on the PDSK site:

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Otter Trail: Surviving the river crossing

Unread post by lauriedelrey » Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:23 pm

We did the Otter Trail at the end of February 2009 and despite some rain on a couple days, the conditions were great overall. I flew in from Los Angeles for the hike knowing very little about the trail or how difficult it was. As a non-athletic type I suffered a lot but felt all the more satisfied when we reached the end. Memories that will last a lifetime! And don't throw away your boots at the end of the trail like I did because there is a special tree you can hang them from at the bar where you get your certificate and do your shot of "Otter's A**hole"

The story of our river crossing on Day 4 is a bit long to post here but can be found at:

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Re: GPS Co-ordinates for Otter Trail

Unread post by unknownexplorer » Sat May 02, 2009 12:09 pm

I found a page which displays the entire route on Google Earth. The GPS track and some Otter trail photos also available for download. It looks like the track have been recorded in March 2009.

Have a look at the following URL: ... icle&id=59

Hope this helps.

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Location: UK

Re: Otter Trail

Unread post by Daltonator » Tue May 12, 2009 10:44 pm

Hey guys,

I have a blog article about the otter trail, I walked it last August. If anyone is interested it is at... ... trail.html

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Equipment list - Otter Trail

Unread post by Coenel » Sat May 16, 2009 8:24 pm

Hi there

My hubby and I are goiing on the Otter in Nov :D . Is there anyone that can give as a good idea of what to take and what not :huh:. We know about the survival bags ect. But like food, what would you suggest or anything else that people forget to tell you. This would be a first trail for my husband but not for me, I know it is a bad one for a firstimer :big_eyes: , but he wants to do it. So any ideas that might help, please help? :?

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Re: Otter, food & & &....

Unread post by Elzet » Sun May 17, 2009 8:06 am

Hi Coenel, I envy you! Wish I could explore that rugged coastline some day (Hubby and I love the Tsitsikamma region):

Pistol-Pete had this advice (uhm, ten years ago...):

Having done the trail 7 times (1st one at the age of 5!) I can hopefully give you a few pointers when planning for it.

Accommodation on each night is in two log cabins with 6 beds (1 inch mattress), so just the old sleeping bag will do - no mattress. Rubbish bins, fire wood, braai areas and grids are provided at each hut, making a braai a good idea for the first night. Vacuum packed meat seems to last quite some time and can be taken for nights 2 and 3.

Crossing the Bloukrans River (Day 4) should only be attempted at low tide, so check the tide table for that day - waking up at 3 in the morning to make the low tide is sometimes necessary! Rain can be quite frequent, and can pose problems for crossings of the Bloukrans (Day 4), Lottering (Day 3). On one occasion we had to swim the Haartenbos (Day 3) and even Natures Valley! (Day 5). Take a survival bag to float the old rucksack through difficult sections, should you be caught. Be very aware of currents at the mouths of these rivers. Also don't hesitate to use the numerous escape routes marked on the map should the crossing appear to be dangerous in any way. Check that all the people on the hike can swim - we have been caught out like this before! Watch out for the accent up to the plateau about 7 km into day 4.

There is evidence of people missing the path and continuing along the coast to the mouth of the Bloukrans. Fill up the water bottle at the last water point before the overnight hut. There are asbestos rain water tanks, but these are often dry especially in the dry months. Try to use water sparingly from these tanks, as the next group of hikers will appreciate your consideration. Candles seem to be a good idea for night time in the huts, just clean up any mess they make. The otter is a very shy little guy and if you see one, consider yourself lucky.

Bottle nosed dolphins are a common sight and often come in close to the shore and play in the surf - look out for them at Oakhurst hut. The Knysna Loerie can quite often be seen jumping about in the upper forest canopy, and are full of character. Do not rush to get to the next hut, as you will end up missing a lot along the way. Take time to explore river mouths, swim etc.

Before and after the trail, Forest huts are available at Storms River Mouth and at Vasselot and accommodate two, with bedding and braai facilities - communal camping ablutions. They are good value for money and are very welcome to the tired and weary hiker. Book them through the National Parks Board. The restaurant at Storms River Mouth used to be excellent for a slap-up dinner, but we have found that recently the food and the service is appalling and you would be better off braaiing.


- sleeping bag
- pillow slip (to make a reasonable pillow using clothes as stuffing)
- survival bag (cape union mart)
- good, comfortable pair of boots or running shoes if you don't like boots
- waterproof Anorak
- sox
- underwear
- warm top
- tracksuit bottom
- 3 x T-shirts (1 for evenings)
- 3 x shorts (1 for evenings)
- costume
- light running shoes/slops for evenings
- hat - sun cream
- 1 box matches/lighter
- sense of humour.

- small biodegradable soap
- toothbrush
- little tube of toothpaste
- 1 roll loo paper
- whatever blows your hair back (no hair dryers)
- hand towel .

- Game isotonic powder drink: try 1 litre at least per day
- biltong
- dried sausage
- peanuts, raisins
- super C's

- Provita/Ryvita, sliced bread
- margarine (in a well sealed small Tupperware container as this stuff leaks when molten)
- Sardines, mussels, potted meat spread
- chips, although they take up a lot of room and are liable to get squashed. Try Pringles
- fruit, not too much as it is heavy
- two minute noodles (emergency rations, also good bachelor food at home)

Really up to you - flask of whisky/brandy whatever. They still have to invent dehydrated beer

- water bottle 1 - 2 litres
- plate (plastic preferably, as it is light and doubles as a frisby if bored and still full of energy)
- pen knifes come in handy, especially when opening beers at the end of the trail
- fork, spoon
- 1 candle
- a light torch with new batteries
- gas stove
- 2 gas bombs per hut
- billy
- First Aid kit

- 2 x wooden huts (they aren't heated like some of our local jails)
- balcony, braai area in front
- bunks with about a 1 inch mattress
- wood is supplied in reasonable quantities at the huts for general fire dancing and cooking purposes

Good luck and I hope this helps you.


There are plenty of other sources that you might like to visit, including the Sanparks site: ... /otter.php

“Life is too short to wake up with regrets. So love the people who treat you right. Forget about those who don’t.” - Harvey MacKay

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Re: Otter Trail

Unread post by ndloti » Mon May 18, 2009 12:23 pm

There are now showers at the huts ?
KNP is sacred. I am opposed to the modernisation of Kruger and from the depths of my soul long for the Kruger of yesteryear! 1000+km on foot in KNP incl 56 wild trails.200+ nights in the wildernessndloti-indigenous name for serval.

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Re: Otter Trail

Unread post by prinslft » Mon May 18, 2009 12:31 pm

:roll: Correct but only cold water available at all the showers. Freezing but nice. :rtm:
Take only Photo`s from nature and leave only footprints

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Re: Otter Trail

Unread post by prinslft » Mon May 18, 2009 1:01 pm

:shock: Afraid it is not possible as the crossing will be at 20h45 and then to hike the remaining 3.8km after dark. no can do. Where can I find out about the tides? In January we had a situation where the Low tide was not low tide at all (completed crossing at neck height) Still enjoyed it though. :roll:
Take only Photo`s from nature and leave only footprints

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Re: Otter Trail

Unread post by landi » Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:54 pm

I am a newbie and have made a request for reservation for the Otter in June 2010. Would anyone on this forum be able to tell me what my chances are to get allocation for a group of 12? And is there anything I still need or could do to procure the booking? See; I don't want to be caught out if there is anything I need to know that will help. As far as I know now my request has gone to reservations and it would seem that I have to wait to hear from the office. Is that correct?Hopefully I will hear from them soon.

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Re: River Crossings on the Otter

Unread post by rpf1 » Mon Jul 20, 2009 5:21 am

I hiked the Otter Trail about 15 years ago, and don't remember a lot of the specifics. Apart from almost drowning, that is. I'm hoping to do it again next winter, and would appreciate any enlightenment people could offer on the following points:

1) Assuming I'm at least somewhat able to pick my day according to tide times (I'm quite flexible), what's the best time window to aim for for low tides on the Bloukrans? Since sunrise will be about 7 a.m., and sundown about 5:30, I'm thinking a crossing between 1 & 3 p.m. would be ideal. Does this sound right?

2) I don't live in South Africa, and my geography's a bit spotty. The on-line tide table I've found ( has times for Knysna—that seems to be the closest spot it offers to the park. Would these times even be accurate for the Bloukrans, or am I making a horrible mishmash of my planning?

3) As a side issue, is going in winter a big mistake? Last time, I hiked in September, and it was absolutely spectacular...


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Re: Otter Trail

Unread post by mish » Mon Jul 20, 2009 10:31 am

prinslft wrote::D Hi me again.

It is time to plan on the Otter again :clap:

We completed the Otter in January 2009 and have booked it again for February 2010 (That is how much we enjoyed the trail)

If anybody is hiking the same time as us (24Feb 2010 till 28 Feb) lets discuss transport arrangements.

What is the best web site for the tides, the site I enter nl. shows that our Bloukrans crossing is at 08h45. Can this be? That obviously mean that we would have to start hiking at 3 am.

We have done it previously, can do it again.

What is the possibility of hot water on the hike? :huh:
OK just


Hi Frik

We have recently booked the Otter Trail for the 24/02/10 - 28/02/10 (OMG!), and a night at Storms River Mouth on 23/02/10. Have no idea what else we're doing and how we're getting around. We will start looking at that soon.

We're Australian, currently living in Angola, and have just moved a few days ago from Luanda (the capital) to Soyo (a charming town in the north of Angola).

Apart from passing through Johannesburg Airport, next February will be our first trip to South Africa. Can't wait!! :D


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Re: Otter Trail

Unread post by prinslft » Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:04 pm

Hi Mish

Glad to see your response. We are a group of 9 persons from Secunda, South Africa that is hiking the Otter on the same dates as you.

The information I can provide is that you will land on O.R.Tambo, and from there, book a flight with Kulula or One Time (Much cheaper than SAA) to George (GRJ).

The transport from George to Stormsriver mouth is quite a rip off, choose wisely. My advise to you is, do not part with your money too easily. The cost could range from R5000 to R80,00 per person, hence my advise choose wisely.

I have more information if you are interested. Ask me specific questions and I will answer them accordingly.

Take only Photo`s from nature and leave only footprints

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Re: River Crossings on the Otter

Unread post by prinslft » Mon Jul 27, 2009 1:16 pm

Hi Ruth

I only have one question for you, why do you do the hike in winter? According to me that is the worst time to hike the Otter as it is winter rainfall area. :huh:

We completed the Otter in January 2009 and did not had any rain on the hike, the rivers were quite low as well and the only crossing that did provide a bit of a struggle was Bloukrans as expected. The crossing was worked out as per tide table. We had to cross at 9h35, the problem with that was that you have to complete 10km before the crossing.

The hike started at 3h30 in order to cross on time. All went well. :clap:

Take only Photo`s from nature and leave only footprints

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