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.
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.
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.
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.