The One and Only Otter Trail

The Otter Trail South Africa stretches for 42 kilometres / 26 miles along South Africa’s Garden Route coastline renowned for open beaches lapping level farmland that leads to a craggy spine of mountains. The oceanic climate is the second mildest after Hawaii, and ensures temperatures rarely climb above 28 C / 82F in summer and seldom fall below 10C / 50F in winter.

Otter Trail South Africa: Scene on Otter Trail, South Africa, View from Skilderkrans across Bloubaai-Wes
Scene on Otter Trail, South Africa, View from Skilderkrans across Bloubaai-Wes

Early Morning on the Otter Trail South Africa

This makes this stretch of coast the perfect habitat for the Cape Clawless Otter, which normally flourishes in a variety of habitats from open coastal plains, to semiarid regions, to densely forested areas. It is unfortunately failing to adapt to overfishing – and indigenous people hunting for its thick soft pelt for winter clothing – and may in time be confined to this part of the Tsitsikamma National Park the name of which means ‘clear water’ in the Khoekhoe language.

Otter Trail South Africa: Cape Clawless Otters
Cape Clawless Otters: Photo Wild in Africa / CC 2.0

Who’s That on Our Rock

Hikers join the Otter Trail at Storms River Mouth from where they soon discover that progress is erratic with the trail clearly not designed for speed. The going is also tough at times as they ascend steep cliffs. It is for good reason that walkers over 65 must produce health certificates, children below 12 must be in the company of an adult, and all should be well prepared. Many visitors leave a second hire car at the trail end in Plettenberg Bay as a convenience for getting back to base. There are many delightful waterfalls and swimming places along the way.

Otter Trail South Africa: Scene on Otter Trail, Waterfall on Jerling River
Scene on Otter Trail, Waterfall on Jerling River

No Showers – Time for a Cooling Swim

 There are five stages to the walk of which the shortest is approximately 5 kilometres and the longest 14 (3 and 9 miles respectively). Booking is essential as there are only two six-sleeper huts at the end of each stage. These are basic comprising outdoor cooking facilities, mattresses on bunks and chemical toilets. These primitive facilities are however more than compensated for by the extraordinary views at every turn, and the privilege of sleeping to the sound of waves crashing against the rocks below.

Otter Trail South Africa: Tsitsikamma National Park, Otter Trail Cliff
Sweet Music for Sweet Dreams, Tsitsikamma National Park, Otter Trail Cliff

About Richard Farrell

Richard FarrellI tripped over a shrinking bank balance and fell into the writing gig unintentionally. This was after I escaped the corporate world and searched in vain for ways to become rich on the internet by doing nothing. Despite the fact that writing is no recipe for wealth, I rather enjoy it. I will deny I am obsessed with it when I have the time.My base is Umtentweni in South Africa on the Kwazulu-Natal South Coast (30.7167° S, 30.4667° E). I work from home where I ponder on the future of the planet, and what lies beyond in the great hereafter. Sometimes I step out of my computer into the silent riverine forests, and empty golden beaches for which the area is renowned.

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  1. Tips for a Road Trip in South Africa | Go 4 Travel Blog

    […] Seeing native wildlife on the Otter Trail. […]


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