UPDATE: Garden Route's Otter Trail set to re-open

2015-11-04 09:32 - Selene Brophy
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Cape Town - Hikers eager to tackle the famous Garden Route Otter Trail will be pleased to know that the first day of the route is set to be re-opened after heavy rain forced SANParks to close it due to safety concerns. 

"I can confirm that our rangers patrolled trails checking for windfalls, uprooted trees and river stream crossings. The trails in Tsitsikamma will be opened tomorrow (Thursday),"GRNP spokesperson Nandi Mgwadlamba told Traveller24.

"The situation is being closely monitored by the Park’s Trails Division in both Bloukrans (Neil Swartz) as well as Storms River Mouth/Storms River (Victor Cunningham). 

12 hiking trails in the Tsitsikamma section of the GRNP have Green Flag status from the Hiking Organisation of Southern Africa (HOSA). This is a global benchmark for hiking trails and includes the following criteria: Conservation status, health and safety measures, cleanliness and maintenance, sustainability, management and others.

 WATCH: Foam party on Otter Hiking Trail

The Otter Trail is said to be one of the most amazing hiking trails in South Africa.

It follows the Eastern Cape coastline from Storms River Mouth to Natures Valley in the Tsitsikamma National Park - the trail is 42.5kms long hike takes 5 days to complete as it follows the rocky shoreline ranging in elevation from sea level to a height of more than 150m. On this trail you need to be prepared, you'll swim across rivers all the while carrying your own crockery. If you've been considering ticking this one off your list of achievements, here's the essentials you need to know...

Otter Trail 101 - Click here to view a SANparks PDF version of the Otter Trail map

When and how to apply

Bookings for the Otter Trail open 11 months in advance. There are only 12 spots available for any specific period of time and this is why people struggle through the booking process. It is, however, possible to apply for availability 14 months in advance by inquiring about the trail and then filling out a form. 

To get the application form contact  specialisedreservations@sanparks.org or call (+27) 012 426 5111. Once you’ve filled out the form, the applications get placed onto SANParks’ server, the day bookings open, it does a random selection and notifies the clients.

Otter Trail hike costs: 
The price as of 1 November 2015 is R1 075 per person.

Age allowed and fitness:

The age restrictions of 12 (minimum age) and 65 (maximum age) years are used as an indicative ages, due to the level of physical demands of the Otter Trail.

All hikers from the ages of 65 and above will be requested to produce a recent doctor’s certificate that confirms their fitness level to undertake the challenging terrain of the Otter Trail.

All young hikers below 12 years of age should be accompanied by their parents/guardians who will be legal signatories to SANParks Indemnity Form to be submitted with copies of their identity document or passport at the Tsitsikamma reception desk before undertaking the Otter Trail.

Otter Trail hike: The Route

DAY 1: Storms River Mouth to Ngubu Huts  - 4.8kms - 3 hours
DAY 2: Ngubu Huts  to Scott Huts - 7.9kms - 5.5 hours
DAY 3: Scott Huts to Oakhurst Huts - 7.7kms - 6 hours
DAY 4: Oakhurst Huts to Andre Huts - 13.8kms - 7 hours
DAY 5: Andre Huts to Nature’s Valley  - 6.8kms - 2 hours

Otter Trail hike: How to get there - Click here to view a SANparks PDF version of the Otter Trail map

It seems the best way to get to the Storms River Mount to start the Otter Trail is by self-drive. If you are a bit further away, it might be worth flying from Johannesburg, Cape Town, or wherever you are to George Airport and hire a car, or hire a bigger vehicle, depending on the size of your group.

Have you completed the Otter Trail, what was it like? We'd love you to share your travel experiences with us, or you can connect with us on FacebookTwitter or Instagram