A year later than originally planned and two years after we made the booking (thanks COVID-19) we headed down to Storms River mouth to hike the Otter trail in April 2021, and boy was it worth the wait! The combination of incredible scenery, great facilities and excellent company put this trip up there with our top travel experiences worldwide. There are plenty of really excellent blog posts out there with great advice on the detail of how to approach the trail, so we’re not going to repeat all of that here. Instead, here are our top three Otter trail tips and a selection of photos.
- Pack light
Although the hike is reasonably short (42km over 5 days) there are a LOT of stairs (7000 allegedly) and having a light pack makes a material difference to how tired and sore you feel. It’s worth putting effort into cutting out as much weight as possible and focus on taking the must-haves only, the nice-to-haves are not so nice after 100 flights of stairs. Even things that seem light on their own, add up quickly. There are lots of simple substitutes you can make – tuna sachets instead of tins, plastic cutlery instead of metal, wine in a bag instead of a bottle, decant toiletries into small bottles etc – and plenty of high tech lightweight hiking gear available if you’re able to invest a bit. Our packs started out at 12kg (including drinks and braai meat for night one and 2l of water).
2. Do some prep
You don’t need to be particularly fit for Otter but you will enjoy it more if you do a bit of training and get a few practice hikes in. Particularly important are walking your shoes in, getting your backpack properly set up and making sure that your cooking equipment works. It’s also a good idea to try out some of your meals in advance to get an idea of portion sizes and cooking practicalities.
3. Take it slow
There is no point marching at high speed, getting to the overnight huts at lunchtime and spending the afternoons exhausted and bored. Rather take your time, stop to admire the view, swim in the rock pools, chill on the beaches and enjoy the journey. Plus your legs will thank you.
Thanks to our fearless leader Barry and the rest of the crew for an epic adventure!
Here are some highlights: