Otter Trail

  • Otter Trail -  - © William Mackesy
  • Otter Trail -  - © William Mackesy
  • Otter Trail -  - © William Mackesy
  • Otter Trail -  - © William Mackesy
  • Otter Trail -  - © William Mackesy
  • Otter Trail -  - © William Mackesy
  • Otter Trail -  - © William Mackesy

Key information: Otter Trail

    Superb trail along the magnificent, empty coast of South Africas Eastern Cape. A favourite for many.
    All the delights of true wilderness a variety of beautiful landscape, fascinating animals and intriguing vegetation.
     This is a demanding 4 5 day walk with a lot of up and down and serious river crossings, on which you will have to be self-sufficient (but sleep in huts). Come prepared.

Walkopedia rating

  • Walkopedia rating79
  • Beauty32
  • Natural interest17
  • Human interest0
  • Charisma31
  • Negative points1
  • Total rating79
  • Note: Heavyish packs

Vital Statistics

  • Length: 42.5km
  • Maximum Altitude: 150m
  • Level of Difficulty: Strenuous
Otter Trail -  - © William Mackesy


A very delightful thing, is the Otter Trail, running for some 42km along the marvellous coastline of South Africas Tsitsikamma National Park: an intense experience in true wilderness.


You will enjoy beautiful and varied scenery, walking by the sea where possible but spending much of the time on the hills behind the seaside cliffs, with ravishing and completely empty view it is a rare thing to see other people once away from the overnight huts.


Enjoy the roiling grandeur of the Indian Ocean, caves, cliffs and waterfalls, especially the multi-layered  fall near the beginning. (This is a good half day walk for those short of time: take a picnic, enjoy the falls and the deep pools at its bottom.) Paddle and snorkel in tidal pools and leave your prints on magical beaches.


 The park boasts fascinating wildlife (much of which you are, needles to say, unlikely to see): the Cape clawless otter (hence the trails name); leopards; genets and caracal; buck; monkeys and baboons. And, in the sea, dolphins, whales, seals and a multitude of birds.


And beautiful and interesting virgin forest and South Africas unique fynbos above the cliffs and behind the beaches, with lovely wildflowers at the right time.


This is a 4.5 - 5 day trek. There are four set overnights on the trail, with hut space for up to 12 available. With places so limited and the trail so popular, it can get very booked up, so reserve well ahead!


This is quite a demanding walk, with a lot of steep ascent and descent. Also, there are 11 river crossings, with the Bloukrans river toward the end requiring care and planning: only attempt it at low tide unless very experienced and a strong swimmer.


We should mention, though, that clambering over slippery wet rock can be a trifle dreary, and there is too much of this on the first day to in particular, when you can hanker after a high, silent mountain.


You have to carry all your kit. Bring your own food, cookers, selling bags, water bottles and purification tablets. And, with river crossings to make, take great care to be sure your kit is waterproof stored, especially cameras and the like.


Have a look at for a brilliant summary of the walk, with some excellent photos. What a delightful and inspiring website, by the way the absolute best of the internet. A bit like Walkopedia, really.


See Rachel Lang's account here:


Your comments on this walk, your experiences and suggestions, and your photos are very welcome. Where appropriate, you will be credited for your contribution.


We have a lot of helpful practical information and tips about this walk, covering everything from the best books and maps, to timing and weather, geting there, possible problems, whether you need a guide and where to find them, and useful websites. This section is only open to members.

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Safety and problems: All walks have inherent risks and potential problems, and many of the walks featured on this website involve significant risks, dangers and problems. Problems of any sort can arise on any walk. This website does not purport to identify any (or all) actual or potential risks, dangers and problems that may relate to any particular walk.

Any person who is considering undertaking this walk should do careful research and make their own assessment of the risks, dangers and possible problems involved. They should also go to “Important information” for further important information.

Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Otter Trail -  - ©William Mackesy

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Anyone planning an expedition to this place should see further important information about this walk.

Otter Trail -  - ©William Mackesy...

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