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Hiking the Otter Trail with Jay Caboz

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Otter’ly worth the effort.

Distance from Cape Town: 7 hours

One cannot even begin to explain how truly magical the Otter Trail really is until you’ve done it yourself. Over the 4 days and 5 nights of the hike, I was filled with a sense of wonder. The Otter Trail has no end to a vivid display of nature: from captivating deep green, wooded forests to waves pounding jagged rocks, to cliffs littered with blooming pincushion proteas.

On day 3, a few meters from Oakhurst Camp huts, set above the Lottering river mouth, I stood watching sea spray dance on beams of light as the sun set. It was full moon and waves smashed against the cliffs like bomb blasts. As the late afternoon light glowed between the sharp rock formations, I reveled in my good fortune at the chance to capture a hidden part of South Africa and tell a story that landscape photographers dream of.

Beyond the jaw dropping vistas right on the doorstep of our camps, it was the little things that also stood out for me. Before the Lottering river crossing, I remember vividly a single valley filled with arum lilies in bloom, the only ones on the 45 kilometer trail. The location really stood out with the scattering of lilies accompanied by a family of dassies sunning themselves on the rocks.
I was completely captivated by the little droplets clinging to their giant white spathes, which were screaming at me to photograph them. Happy to say I can add one more picture to my collection of indigenous plants under one light. This time in a 100% wild environment. I just can't get over the incredible detail I managed to capture in those droplets.

There was one spectacular moment on our very last day of the trail which will forever remain etched into my memory. Standing on the pebble beach, in the shadow of the massive cliffs, kit loaded and backpacks on, we looked back onto the Andre huts one last time. “Otter!” one of my hiking buddies shouted, when he noticed a shape moving on the rocks. To our surprise it was the elusive Cape Clawed Otter heading out for a spot of breakfast. Cameras hurtled out of bags and phones grabbed out of pockets just in time for the otter to make a graceful exit into surf.

On the trail there is always something to capture your attention and a half hour later, as we made our way up the steep cliff face en route to a well-deserved lunch, a pod of dolphin surfed by just offshore. From our vantage point we enjoyed watching as they played in the crashing blue waves. It’s the unexpected moments like these that stay with you long after the sweat, aching muscles and stinky (stinky!) clothes are forgotten on the trail. A hike to otter-ly cherish. I can’t wait to go back again next year.

Scuttle Tip: Book your hike through Afritrails.

Follow Jay on Instagram.

Photos by Jay Caboz

See more photos by Jay Caboz

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An overnight hike in between cold fronts

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Take a chance, win a prize

Distance from Cape Town: 1 hour

It was Friday lunch time, no plans for the weekend and the weather looked good. The last couple of weekends were spent in the comfort of home while the winter weather rolled through. No more sitting in front of the fire, listening to the rain. This weekend's weather seemed perfect for a quick overnight hike. No clouds in the forecast, so crisp but great for watching stars from your warm down sleeping bag.

For most, a lastminute decision like this leads to an increased heartrate but the reason for it can fall into 2 categories. Either it leads to stress due to the lack of planning and the unknown of what lies ahead or it leads to excitement knowing that from great risk comes great reward. Ideally it should be a bit of both as not all great adventures are planned to perfection but all great adventures lead to excitement. Our lastminute decision paid off. A fairly cold night was crowned by a beautiful sunrise the next morning. The colours were mesmerizing and after the third coffee it was time to explore. Luckily there was no rush to get back home. The rugby was only in the afternoon. What a trip. What an adventure. We made a note to do this more often.

Tell us about your lastminute adventure or ask us what you need by sending an email to adventures@scuttle.co.za or sharing on our Facebook.

Tell us about your experiences by sending us an email to adventures@scuttle.co.za. Alternatively share it with us on Facebook. We would love to hear from you.

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Hiking to a Hidden Gem

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Hidden cave in your back garden

Distance from you: go and find out

There is nothing like exploring your own "backyard" and coming across a hidden gem. Be it the most amazing waterfall you only see in movies or a colossal cave you dreamed about as a child. It is out there, waiting to be discovered. The reward is great and the effort, most of the time, very little. You just have to go and explore.

The photos below is of such an adventure. We had heard about this cave but was not sure where exactly it is or how much effort and "head for heights" it would take. We had to go with the little information that was available and find it. And what a find it was. It is a huge cave with lots of space and the most amazing views and it is next to a beautiful waterfall. Best time of the year to go is in winter as the waterfall makes you think you are sleeping next to the ocean (and drowns out any snoring from fellow hikers).

Tell us about your local hidden gem or your efforts to find it by sending an email to adventures@scuttle.co.za or sharing on our Facebook.

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Lowveld Hiking – Greater Kruger NP

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Immerse yourself in Nature on a Primitive Trail with Lowveld Trails Co.

Lowveld Trails Co.

Led by professional Wilderness Trails Guides, with thousands of trails hours experience, you will spend three self-sufficient nights (four days) in the wild. By carrying all your equipment on your back, you’ll enter a world accessible to a privileged few. There are no demarcated campsites or routes for these Trails. You set your own pace and explore according to your interests and capabilities, sleeping at a pristine site under the stars each night (no tents) and packing up in the morning to leave no trace.

Distance from Johannesburg - 5.5 hours

Greater Kruger National Park

The Lowveld Trails Co. team has extensive experience and the highest qualifications in their field, ensuring that they are able to safely and confidently lead Trails in wild and unpredictable environments.⁠

Furthermore, they act as trainers, mentors and assessors within the Trails Guide industry and are passionate about sharing their experience and expertise with others.

These Primitive Trails take place across exclusive properties in the Greater Kruger National Park, including the Timbavati Private Nature Reserve and the Klaserie Private Nature Reserve.

Everything Lowveld Trails Co. do comes from a place of principle to maintain the integrity of the natural world. They endeavour to leave no trace when in wild places, value all wildlife equally and engage with animals in a calm and non-confrontational way. It’s about acknowledging our responsibility to the world around us, and our impact on those who come after us.⁠

Primitive Trails offer an alternative model with which to explore and conserve. It’s a shift from the spectatorship of the traditional safari and encourages direct interaction with wild places. ⁠

There are Trail options available for group and individual bookings:

‘Primitive Trails’ are for group bookings of up to 8 participants.

‘Mentorship Trails’ are for individual bookings, for both qualified guide and guest participants. There are 5 ‘observer’ spots, on each scheduled Mentorship Trail, open to guest participants, offering them the opportunity to go behind the scenes and observe first-hand how Trails Guides are trained and mentored. ⁠

For bookings, availability, tariffs and more visit the Lowveld Trails Co. website.

Scuttle Tip: Rent all your gear from Scuttle and we will deliver it to your door.

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Leopard Trail – Baviaanskloof

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The Leopard Trail Slack Packing Experience

Leopard Trail

The Leopard Trail is a 4 day, 3 night slack pack hike in the magical Baviaanskloof. The trail is beautifully diverse and well laid out, winding through the unique and ancient landscape of the Baviaanskloof Nature Reserve. Hikers will enjoy incredible views of the Kouga and Baviaans mountains, many rockpools to cool off in, be surrounded by magnificent flora along the way, and bask in the silence of the region.

Distance from Cape Town - 7 hours
Distance from Port Elizabeth/Gqeberha - 4 hours

The Route:

Start point: Go Baviaans Base Camp
End Point: Go Baviaans Base Camp

The Leopard Trail is a circular hike staring from, and returning to, the Cedar Falls Base Camp where vehicles are left. The route is moderately difficult, with the longest day being 22km. It is designed for people of good hiking fitness. There are many opportunities in the first 3 days to cool off in one of the many mountain pools.

Day 1: 9.75km (3-5 Hours)

The hike starts with a pretty decent uphill and makes one wonder what lies ahead. The rest of the day’s trail takes one past a lovely kloof which is an ideal lunch spot and further down the valley to the overnight huts.

Day 2 : 18km (5-8 Hours)

The second day is a mix of easy flat sections with a few up-and-overs after halfway. Take the optional detour into the kloof before the first climb of the day. It is worth it.

Day 3: 22km (6-9 Hours)

Day 3 is the longest and a 6am start is a good idea. The halfway point at Wegdraai is a good lunch spot and running water can be found upstream. From there the trail follows the kloof all the way down to the overnight huts through the most amazing rock cliffs and unexpected forests.

Day 4: 13km (5 Hours)

The last day follows the kloof upstream untill a steep exit. At the top there are beautiful views of the Baviaans. From there it descends into a few up-and-overs to the finish. Look out for leopard tracks down the final kloof. (pic below)

For bookings, availability, tariffs and more visit the Afri-Trails website.

Scuttle Tip: Book the Hikers Hut at the Go Baviaans Basecamp for the night before and the night after the hike. Make sure you visit the Ceder Falls, an absolute highlight.

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