hi all. We are doing the otter trail in November, low tide for the bloukrans on the fourth day is at 7:22 am. Is it possible to swim this at incoming tide? Its also spring tides. Otherwise we will have to leave at 3 am to walk a pretty rough trail… Exciting! Cant wait!
From what I understand, you can walk about 2km upstream, cross the Bloukrans Bridge and then walk 2km back to the trail on the other side. Don’t take unnecessary risks with river crossings - they can be very dangerous.
Note: the above is based on what I’ve been told by people who have done the trail. I have not done it myself.
If you’d like tips on it - look for a YouTube channel called Roughing it with Ruth - she did a series with tips on the Otter Trail recently, after she did the trail last year. A lot of useful content in there.
thanks so much! Yes, I have been thoroughly exploring Rough Ruth! Have checked that out.
Hi Elizabeth! We had a very similar situation (our low tide time was around 7am). We decided to start at midnight, as our group was not very fast, and we wanted to take extra care over the sea rocks. This worked well for us because we stayed together and could help each other. If you do decide to take the escape route, you should be aware of 2 things: 1) it is very steep and needs to be done slowly and with care 2) you are not allowed to walk along the N2, so you will have to call SANParks rangers to pick you up and they will take you along the road and then off down a dust road towards Andre Hut. You will then hike the rest of the way to Andre Hut. Both options are fine, but definitely take the time to calmly and rationally assess the Bloukrans River before committing to a crossing.
Thank you so much Ruth. We are definitely swinging towards starting out at 3am to make the crossing by low tide. I so enjoy your videos! It is only because of you that we know our low tide time, and the medical certificate. I was invited to do the hike with friends, and upon your advice to be totally informed even though I am not organizing it, i started research. Thanks for your inspiration!
We will have to assess the speediness of our group. Its good to know a story about people who started really early. Nice experience to walk at night.
Hi Elizabeth, I live at the coast and can give you some advice. Take into account that the tide always remain low for up to 1-and-a-half or two hours after the real low tide time. So that gives you more time to get there and to cross. You can thus start a bit later and plan to cross at 9 am.
Good point Derek! I hadn’t thought of that. Thank you!
What did you guys land up doing ? How was the crossing, what time did you leave ? How long did it take you to hike to the Bloukrans river crossing
Our day 4 is on May 4th and low tide is at 7am so I am wondering what we should do ?
Only part I am nervous for
Don’t be nervous! This will be your most exciting part of the trail. It made the hike for us. Also, to remember, on all the other days, there is so much time to get to your destination, that you can really take your time. There is no point in rushing to the cottage.
Our low tide was at 8 am, and we got up at 3 30 am to start walking at 4 am. For me personally, this was a mistake, as it wasn’t early enough to have a coffee before I left, which I missed and needed! It is too lovely walking that coastline in the dark with head torches. I had a cheap one from the hardware, and it was perfectly adequate. Watching the sunrise, having that dark experience, is truly fantastic.
We got to the crossing at 7 30, which gave us plenty of time to decide on which of the three points to cross at. There is an information board at the top of the descent to the river which gives you options.
Those of us who arrived earlier sat down to pack our bags into survival bags and to discuss the crossing, and just to get a feel for the place. The water level was a lot higher than we expected and higher than previously experienced. It was a neap tide. Our plan was to wait until just after low tide to be sure there was no current flowing out to sea from the river which happens when the tide is going out. This was a good plan!
Then the last two of our group arrived. And with them a very fast active energy. One member wasted no time in putting their bags into plastic and heading out to swim to the most seaward crossing. Another member hot on his tail. This caused a stir to our otherwise very chilled group, and we were soon all swimming. This is not advised on either the board on the top of the hill nor on the website. It certainly taught me a lesson about human nature! We all crossed fine, but it was deep, and I wouldn’t recommend doing this as it is so remote. There were safer options, but they involve climbing. And waiting!, and sticking to the plan!
Once we were all on the other side, chatting about it (me making coffee!) The guy who crossed first told us that he was swept a bit beyond the landing place, so, not good! And the tide dropped a lot more while we were drying out. Ridiculous.
So my advice would be, leave with plenty of time to get there, we did the 10 km in 3 and a half hours. Give yourself half an hour at the river side to relax, eat something and to pack your bags into plastic if you have to. On spring tides, it is shallow enough to walk without floating packs, but still, take the plastic bags no matter what! Just in case. We used heavy duty transparent plastic bags that we got from a factory, and they worked better than the survival bags, which got holes in them.
And stick to your plan!
It is important to take this crossing seriously, but don’t turn it into a monster, it really isn’t. It was by far the most exciting and enjoyable part of our hike.