The Otter Trail, Garden Route
Did you know?
You are never higher than 150 metres above sea level throughout the trail
South Africa's Otter Trail, winding through the Tsitsikamma forest and skirting the Garden Route's rugged coastline, is considered by most serious hikers as the best hiking trail in the country.
A five-day hike, the Otter Trail's incredibly diverse natural beauty - taking in the best of forest and coast, with a wide variety of fauna and flora on show - will make a huge impression on you.
The trail is 42km-long, most of it following cliff tops along the shoreline, 150m above the sea, returning to sea level for river crossings. Though not the most difficult hike in the country, it does require a fair level of fitness.
Hikers also need to be aware of the dates and times of high and low tides as it is all but impossible (and inadvisable) to attempt river crossings during high tide periods.
The trail starts from the Garden Route National Park's Storms River rest camp and day one is a relatively easy hike of 4.8km. Along the way is a large cave that is worth exploring, as is the majestic waterfall that follows.
Day two, a 7.9km hike, features the most varied section of the trail. It includes a walk through stunning forest before reaching the solid quartz outcrop of Skilderkrans, a great place to take a break and try spot any frolicking dolphins or whales in the waves below.
Day three brings a 7.7km hike, starting with a river crossing (remember to check the tides) and then following the rocky coastline through pristine fynbos until the Elandsbos river is reached, a great place for a swim.
Day four, at 13.8km, is the longest section of the trail and includes a long walk through the Bloukrans estuary. The final leg of the hike, 6.8km, is a relatively easy stroll (especially after the previous day's exertions) to Nature's Valley where the trail comes to an end.
A word of warning: the Otter Trail is extremely popular, so you have to reserve a place at least a year in advance. Numbers are also strictly limited to control the impact of hikers on the sensitive environment.
Travel tips & Planning info
Who to contact
Tel: +27 (0)12 426 5111
How to get here
The start of the trail is found at Storms River Mouth. The closest national airport is in George, approximately three hours drive. The closest international airport is in Cape Town with daily flights available to George.
Best time to visit
Spring and summer are the best times to hike the trail, between September and March.
Hike, of course!
What will it cost
R860 per person
Length of stay
The Otter Trail is a four-night, five-day trail.
What to pack
Take your own bedding, food and catering equipment in addition to your normal hiking gear. And don't forget the sunblock!
Where to stay
Accommodation is provided at each of the overnight stops.
What to eat
You must take your own food with you on the trail.