The Garden Route’s Otter Trail
The Garden Route is one of the most popular tourist attractions in South Africa. Boasting everything from verdant vineyards and spectacular coastal vistas, this is a trail that will enchant and enthral you at every available opportunity. One of the best ways to enjoy the wonders of the Garden Route on your tailor-made South Africa holiday is to take the famous Otter Trail.
Discovering the Otter Trail
The Otter Trail is one of the highlights of the Garden Route, and that’s no mean feat given the competition in this truly breathtaking part of the world. Stretching just over 40 kilometres, this winding hiking trail will treat you to views of forest glades, secluded beaches and coastal inlets, rocky outcrops and vivid blue pools. Many people choose to break up the journey and cover the expanse over the course of 3-5 days. There’s a fair distance to hike, and travelling at a moderate pace enables you to take advantage of the scintillating landscapes surrounding you.
A sample itinerary like this one will ensure that you don’t miss any of the best bits of this truly unique hike:
Storms River to Ngubu Hut (4.8km)
Starting from Storms River, make your way along the track, keeping your eyes peeled for local fauna and flora. Eventually, you’ll catch a glimpse of a beautiful waterfall, which makes for an ideal base for a pit stop for lunch and a drink. As you continue along the track, you’ll notice Ngubu Hut come into sight. This is a popular spot to spend the night ready for a longer trek in the morning.
Scott Hut (7.9km)
When you rise, it’s time to get your walking boots on and make your way to the next stop-off at Scott Hut. On your travels, you’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the Skilderkrans cliffs before walking upstream to enjoy the pools and falls of the Kleinbos River. At this point, it’s well worth hiking down to Blue Bay. After a very steep, arduous climb, you’ll reach your destination, Scott Hut, which is surrounded by pretty arum lilies and offers views of the Geelhoutbos River gorge.
Oakhurst Hut (7.7km)
After an hour or so of walking, you’ll find yourself staring at the golden sands of the Elandsbos Beach. This area is perfect for discovering hidden paths and coves and soaking up the serenity. Watch the waves crash against the rocks before continuing on the path until you reach Oakhurst Hut. Look out for colourful birds soaring through blue skies. Species found in this area include Knysna louries. As the name suggests, there’s also an opportunity to spot the elusive otter at this stage of the trail. If you can’t see these playful creatures darting around, you may be able to see their footprints.
This part of the trail involves crossing the Bloukrans River. To do this safely, it’s best to traverse at low tide.
The final leg of the trail should take around 3.5 hours. Starting with a set of steps that seems endless after days of walking, you’ll soon feel that the effort was worth your while when you see Nature’s Valley in the distance. When you reach the powdery sands, take in the views and relax.