Me, Rachel Swailes. My blog about stuff I get up to in and around the Western Cape, Cape Town, George, Wilderness, Hermanus and other cool places :)


Published on Thursday, November 30th, 2006 at 10:32 pm

A few weeks ago I got a call from my good friend Nena in Joburg. Mark, a friend of hers, had organised an Otter Trail trip and there were some places open.

So Richard and I jumped at the idea and this week we got back from five awesome days outside. We got to George on Friday quite late and spent Saturday taking Nena, Mark and Lauren from the airport through to the Buffalo Bay Backpackers which, suprisingly enough, is not in Wilderness but actually in Buffalo Bay.

The place looked really great though. Right on the beach!

Day 1

On Sunday morning we drove through to fetch them and continued to Tsitsikama to start the hike. We were kind of nervous about the weather report for the week but thankfully it held out. We were even more nervous about the river crossings after watching the “powerful” “amazing” “suddenly” video, but there wasn’t much time to dwell on it as we were amped to get started.

Heading out

At the back it’s Lauren, Kristy, Nena, Me, Richard, Susan and Alex. In the front it’s Kevin, Mark, Rachael and Dierdre.

Not far into the first day, we came across a huge cave.

Guano Cave

The stop there wasn’t for long as we wanted to get to the waterfall for some lunch. The water looked seriously inviting but turned out to be absolutely freezing!

Waterfall

The brave ones swam around under the waterfall while the rest lazed about on the warm rocks.

Really cold water

We got to the first hut while there was still a lot of light. Oddly enough it was the boys who were more excited about the solar shower than anyone else. Well, the boys and Nena.

Solar Shower
Nena, standing on the deck of our hut, posing in front of the sunset. Neen
Around the fire And had a great braai before heading off to bed. I also enjoyed seeing the stars away from the city lights. There were so many when the moon hid behind the mountains that it was difficult to make out the major constellations. Awesome!

Day 2

We started on the second day at about 9am. It was good to sleep in a bit but some advice to anyone going on the trail, wake up early! There are so many things to see everyday.

Just after the ascent from the hut, we stopped at the lookout point were we got to see the first look at the whale and calf that would follow us up until the early tea break. Looking back we could also see the huts from the night before.

Looking at the whales
Richard and Me - Still relatively clean Richard and I standing on the lookout deck. Still looking relatively clean and me looking very much forward to the shower at the end of the day.
The girls looking out at the whales. We were very fortunate with the wildlife as we got to see louries, whales and plenty of dolphins. The girls

Further along the trail we came across another lookout point (a natural one this time) and Richard and I were fortunate enough to get to the top of it just before the whales came swimming by. It was the closest we were to them the whole trail.

View from the lookoutpoint

Richard and then Mark taking in the view.

Richard Mark

Ok, so we got a lot of photos taken on this rock. This is me and Nena.

Me and Nena

For lunch we stopped at a river in the shade. The swell of the ocean was affecting the pools where we were sitting and it made the most soothing sound as the water filled the pool and was pulled back out into the sea.

River crossing

Later in the afternoon we came across a beautiful sheltered beach called Blue Bay. As Kristy found out, the waves were a little strong but it was a treat to be able to swim in the sea without a wetsuit on. As we were getting ready to leave, the clouds started to come over and we missioned for the evening’s hut.

Awesome beach

For some reason there was no water at the hut that night. I had got it in my head that I was going to be clean so we trekked off to find a quiet little bathing spot up the river. We found this little pool with a waterfall flowing into it. Unfortunately with the cold water getting to my brain I didn’t get to take a picture of it.

This picture was taken off the deck of our hut.

From the deck

This was also the evening that we were entertained by the Deloitte Comedy Troup of Nena, Mark and Lauren. Which was more like Nena and Lauren vs Mark. Which may have been brought on by Mark’s jocks or the jube-jube-sugar. Guess it would be best to ask Nena.

At the huts Another sunset

Day 3

This is the day that we wish we had woken up earlier. The day of The Most Awesomest Pool Ever In The History Of Pools Ever.

But being kind of tired from the previous day, and not aware of said pool, were were kind of lazy to get out of bed and get going.

View of the hut

Here is the pool. The best swimming spot I have ever come across and I must say the absolute highlight of the trail.

By this point Richard and I had gone on ahead and had this whole pool to ourselves which was fantastic. It was so calming and you bearly felt the swell underneath you. There were also huge fish swimming around and probably other huge scary things but it was just to beautiful and peaceful for us to care. If I could do this hike again, I would have spent the whole day here and run the rest of the day’s journey.

Awesomest Pool Ever In The History Of Pools

A short while after we dragged ourselves out of the pool was the first crossing. We also got to see some baboons by the water which was a bit scary. They were big and loud and from the sounds of it they weren’t pleased with us chasing them away from their watering spot. But it was boots off and away we went.

River Crossing Number 1

Another cool pool we found. It looked a bit open to the deep blue sea though so we gave it a skip.

Another cool pool
We were also quite keen to move on to lunch and we stopped at this little beach to get into the provitas and tuna. Lunch Beach

The Lottering River crossing was one of the two river crossing we had been warned to take care at but we arrived at a good enough time to get across without taking boots off or getting them wet. The rocks were pretty slippery though!

Lottering River Crossing

The crossing was also right close to the hut and it was great to get in and have a shower (with a view) and feel clean again.

These are the sun worshippers catching the last few rays of the day. And Mark taking steps to ensure that he had a hot shower that night. Although the heating of the water and the drying of the towels was influenced more by the warmth radiating from the rock than from the direct rays of the sun.

Rock lizards at hut

Nena and Lauren ready for supper and ready for bed!

Tired hikers

Richard and I feeling clean, well fed and ready to nap.

Me and Richard

Day 4

This was the 13km day, the longest walk by far! We also had to time it just right that we made it to the Bloukrantz river in time for low tide at 17:30. This was the first day that everyone left at staggered intervals.

We left early too and there was still a lot of shade on the path as we started walking.

Sunrise

At this beautiful green valley we found evidence that an otter had been around, but probably long before we had arrived. Anyway, it was time for a quick snack and back to walking.

Green Valley

A little way further into the day we got seriously excited on finding another awesome pool to swim in. It looked pretty much like the first one with more things to look at on the bottom.

Unfortunately as soon as we got in the pool, waves began to break over the rocks on the sea side which sent water rushing into the pool at quite a rate. It churned up all the sand at the bottom and freaked us out a bit as the current became quite strong. But it was amazing to watch the waves breaking on the rocks once we were safely pearched on the other side.

Scary Awesome Pool

Alex, Lauren and Nena had gone on ahead and we were suprised to catch up to them so quickly. As we got closer to them though, we realised they had stopped to look at something on the path. Lauren had spotted a snake laying along the path basking in the sunlight. Someone thought it was a gaboon viper because of it’s markings, but on returning to wikipedia we think it was a puff adder because of it’s looks and behaviour. And because gaboon vipers don’t seem to be found in southern africa. Either way, not something that you want to mess with!

So we waited for it to turn away from us before we scurried along in the bushes on the other side of the path.
Once again, Richard and I forged on ahead, making good time. So we stopped for quite a while at a mini waterfall to look at the sea. The river was plunging into a small pool and we found a great rock to sit on and eat minneolas.

On a rock

So we actually made it in great time to the crossing. We had three hours to spare! Lots of time for suntanning, snacking, napping and just chilling out by the river.

Bloukrantz
Boys playing ball The boys braved the current for some game with a ball while the girls caught some sun.
Lauren had the best spot with the blow up ball for a pillow. Girls tanning

This is Nena and Lauren cooling off in the river. It got seriously hot waiting to cross as there was very little shade to speak of.

Nena and Lauren
Nena and Lauren getting wet And right after that photo of them looking cool and composed, the swell came in a drenched them! At least they were cool…

The one group got a bit tired of waiting and decided to cross before the low tide. They managed to get the boys packs over the river and then up the rocks on the other side. No sooner had they put the packs down and come back for the others, had crows started getting into their packs looking for tasty morsels. So Alex and Kevin came back for more packs while Mark stayed as a scarecrow
They all got across fine but Richard and I waited for the tide. We managed to cross fine too without having to scramble over too many rocks.

Time to cross

By the time we got across we were really tired and ready for bed. Thankfully the last three k’s went very quickly and we could get showered and fed and to bed!

Day 5

On the last day, Richard and I had to get up and on our way super early so that we could get back to Cape Town. (Although in retrospect, we didn’t really have to because of the daft lorry recovery operation on the R60 – but that’s besides the point)

So as quietly as possible we packed up our stuff and had breakfast. The rainclouds had started to come in so we water proofed our bags with the “strong as nails” bags, and left Nena a suprise helping of Mark’s jocks under her cap before setting off.

The first part of the climb was hard but after that we were on the flat all the way into Nature’s Valley. We made excellent time in our soggy shoes and waited for my folks to come collect us. During the walk we talked about how awesome it would be to be met with dry towels or a tasty snack, but when they arrived we were just happy to be out of the rain.

Natures Valley

All in all a superb hike! Thanks to Mark for getting the permits and thanks to Nena for thinking of me to fill the empty spaces. Let us know when the next one is going down!

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4 Responses to “Otter Trail”

  1. Hi Rachel

    Awesome blog! Hike looks so beautiful – I’m jealous ;-)
    Hope you’re having a good week.

    Love Jean

  2. The pics are stunning, hon. It sounds as if you had the best time ever.

    Love always
    Linda

  3. It was the jube jube sugar! also, thanks for the surprise under my hat, i got such a fright i didn’t mention it to anyone until later when i found out rachel was the culprit! guys thanks for the trip of a lifetime and Rachel for setting up this site, its so cool to have a day by day account! Thanks to mark for organising!

    Go the C team , over and out!

  4. [...] The rest of the afternoon we spent walking around the other enclosures. Here we went to look at the meercats. Followed by a trip into the snake room.Although I didn’t get a good picture of it, there was a beautiful specimin of a puffadder there. I am sure glad we didn’t mess with the one we found on the otter trail! [...]

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