Taking on the Otter Trail

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iol travel july6 otter trail INDEPENDENT NEWSPAPERS The Otter Trail is one of the many attractions on the Garden Route.

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 and takes 5 days to complete. 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, carry your own crockery and if you forget your sunblock you'll surely get burnt.

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 enquiring about the trail and then filling out a form. To get the application form contact Bridget Bagley at [email protected] 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.

Costs

The price from beginning of November 2011 until the 31 October 2012 is R810.00 per person, from 1 November 2012 the rate is R860.00 per person.

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

How to get there

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.

What to pack - general

Headlight and extra batteries.

Sunblock

Toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss.

Sunglasses

Camera - remember to take a few extra batteries, your camera will be working overtime.

Leave your cellphone in the car - 2 people in the group need to take a charged cellphone, just in case.

oBackpack - a 65 litre backpack for ladies and a bigger one for men. Remember to also purchase a waterproof or survival bag for crossing rivers. You get them at outdoor shops.

Candles to light the fire with (you'll need one per night).

Matches or a lighter.

Toilet paper.

Cable ties (you never know whose backpack is going to break)

Space blanket.

First aid kit (pack your own one - include plasters, bandages, Imodium, ibuprofen, Betadine, Panado and Savlon)

Hiking pole (it helps on the up- and downhills)

Spare batteries and an extra memory card (take spare batteries for your headlamp too) - Discover Africa

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