The Otter Trail is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. I can’t recommend it enough. Here’s my account and tips of the five days we hiked from Storms River to Nature’s Valley.
So Day 1, Day 2, Day 3 and Day 4 were now all behind us, we woke up knowing that it was our final day and that, like day one, it was known as an easy days hike. It was definitely a day of reflection. While we were putting our, all but, empty rucksacks on – a pod of dolphins came close to shore and surfed the waves. It was a perfect way to start the day.
Day five is 6.8kms long but only takes about two and a half to three hours to hike. It caught us a bit off guard, as all the books we read said it was an easy and flat day, but the first 500-600m is just straight up hill. 20 minutes into the final day and you are sweating and your legs are burning. After the steep incline is a viewing point that you can actually look down on where you’ve just spent the night.
You walk a bit further around the corner and you can still look back and see your previous nights accommodation. It also gives you a good perspective of how steep the initial climb is.
There really is nothing more to day five than that initial hill. After that, it’s very flat as you hug the coastline, then go through a bit of forest and back along the coastline. The scenery, as usual is just majestic.
You find yourself zoning out while walking, day-dreaming about the previous four days you’ve spent in this wonderland. You think about all the flowers you’ve seen, the fish eagle we saw circling on day two, the numerous genet cats we saw along the way. Even the one that sneaked into our room on day three and stole sweets and biscuits. You remember the monkey’s in the bushes and the buck we saw on day three that was literally a few feet away from us.
You reflect on all the laughs you’ve had and all the memories you’ve created in what has to be one of the most beautiful stretches of land in the world. The mood is hard to explain, everyone is feeling down that the experience is drawing to an end, but at the same time, you’re excited to have a hot shower, get clean, put on comfortable shoes and have a cold beer.
After about six kilometres, you can walk no more. You get to a cliff, where the mountain meets the ocean and the view is stunning. Nature’s Valley is below you and you then wind your way down onto the beach.
The final stretch of the Otter Trail is along the beach and it’s an emotional walk. The realisation that you’ve managed to hike 42km’s is one of the best feeling there is.
We got to the pub, ordered 12 cold draughts of whatever beer they had on tap, burgers, pizza’s, calamari and just pigged out for a few hours.
The pub serves a shot for everyone who completes the trail, it’s called an Otter’s Arsehole. My word… I’ve never tasted anything like it – it’s hands down the worse thing to pass my lips. The curdled texture and horrific taste is something I wouldn’t want again.
If I had to do it again, I’d do it differently. I would pack a third of the amount that I did. Everyone packs way to much food and drinks. I wouldn’t suggest if you’re doing it – that you lead the pack, you eat far to many cobwebs being up front. I also found a walking stick on day two and it made the world of difference on the downhill’s. One thing that really stood out was the food, if you are doing it and playing on 2 Minute Noodles for supper, you’re going to feel down. Having a substantial and delicious meal after a days hike is a game changer.
I hope everyone reading this is now booking their trip. There’s a year’s waiting list to get onto the trail, so book it now. It’s a real “bucket list” thing to do.