Everything about The Otter Trail Hike

Anyone who has completed the Otter Trail would concur that it is among the finest hiking trails in the world. It is not that difficult for most to do.

For many, this hike ranks high on their “bucket-list”

This blog is intended to prepare the many novice, unwilling or unfit potential hikers to explore the wonders of the Otter Trail. This blog can be an over-kill for the seasoned professionals!

This blog includes information on how to book, when to go, a trail overview, estimated costings, a very detailed equipment packing list with estimated weighting, first hand day by day detailed information, as well as other unique and very useful information, tips and downloads to make your trip much easier and rewarding.

All of this information has been documented after many months of research as well as during hikes. We hope you find it useful.

Please feel free to leave a comment with your own tips and experiences once you have completed the hike.

Why hike the Otter Trail?

It is a multi-day hiking trail in the Eastern Cape area of South Africa. It ranges 4 nights and 5 days hiking from Storms River Mouth to Natures Valley spanning around 45 Km's. The trail traverses through scenic landscape, at times through rugged colourful rocks and other times through lush green scented forests, never drifting far from the shoreline, but often climbing steeply and then descending to the beach or a river crossing. It ranges in elevation from sea level to heights of more than 150m often providing unparalleled views.  A challenging but well-rewarded hike.

It is named after the Cape Clawless Otter which could rarely be seen on the trail. The flora and fauna on this hike is abundant and includes Dolphins, Whales, Rock Dassies, Knysna Loerie’s, Fynbos and King Protea’s. The shoreline boasts some unique and remote beaches, well suited for photography as well as snorkelling.

The trail is 5 days and 4 nights and includes basic rustic overnight huts situated at extreme viewpoints along the linear route. The following distances between the various camps are indicated as follows:

·         Day 1 - 4.8km
·         Day 2 - 7.9km
·         Day 3 - 7.7km
·         Day 4 - 13.8km
·         Day 5 - 10.8km
·         Total Distance - 45km

One has to be relatively fit for this hike. Whilst the daily distances are short, the trail has frequent altitude climbs from sea level to clifftops and back down. There are no porters to assist with your luggage and you have to keep your own hiking gear with you throughout the hike. Many hikers who struggle on this hike attribute their difficulties to over packing and general lack in preparation. Take along your smile, sleeping bag, food, water (available at certain points) and other basic equipment. See the equipment page to help you keep your backpacks light.

Only 12 permits are available daily directly from SANPARKS, so the Otter Trail Hike has probably the most demand for any hike in South Africa. It is also commonly listed among the top hikes in the world. Expect to book well in advance. It is best to book all 12 spots and tag along like-minded friends or family.

It is South Africa’s favourite and most famous trails and arguably the most iconic of all.


  1. I am doing the hike in November. Thanks for your blog. It has loads of helpfull information

  2. WOW! great blog. very detailed and informative. all the info i ever needed.

  3. This is really great. I am looking at doing this hike and your blog has really answered alot of questions I've had! Thanks! I had some basic information from another South African travel blog as well - https://www.travelscape.co.za/south-africa/things-to-do-south-africa/

  4. hi... names mahomed. 12 of us completed the trail on march 1st 2014. honestly... we found it very difficult. you have to be quite fit physically and mentally. once you start... theres no turning back ( only in extreme emergency cases). the uphill climbs are quite difficult...so are the downhill steps. on 2 occasions we ran out of water whilst walking on day 3. the bottom line... you have to have good equiptment, a light backpack , you should be reasonably fit and keep an open mind. but i can assure you that the sweat and tears is rewarding. the views are breathtaking and a handful of people get to enjoy the scenery anually. would i do it again ? maybe

  5. We compiled a video of our Otter Trail hike: take a look :)

    1. This is such a great video- thanks for sharing Natasha

  6. Good day, were a group of 8 students and were going to do the otter in June. I would just like some advice on shoes. Is it possible to complete the otter in tekkies? Or is hiking shoes essential?

    1. Many, especially the more agile prefer tekkies as they not as hot and provide more freedom. Boots provide more stability and support for the ankles given the terrain. Boots are more suited to the less agile in general. Also be prepared for rain, so leather or goretex with a waterproof gaiter should assist.

    2. Dear MuAzzam. I have some qs if u dont mind. 1. Did u start the trip from storms river when you got there in the morning, or did u first stay there overnight before the hike?2. How much water did u take with u? 3.did you stay the night after the trip or did u just pack and leave?please advise.
      Thank you for your help

  7. Hi there. Our group will be doing the Otter in July. I did it a 4-6 years ago. Can any one tell us if the last day is still so steep up from the hut. I read somewhere that they did make it a bit more accessible but I can't remember where I read it.

  8. As far as I am aware, its still the same but manageable. Not sure if there is a new pathway


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