General, Photography, Travel

South Africa 2008 – Day 5 Otter Trail start!

Otter Trail Day One

It is Ben’s birthday today. I remembered to send him a happy birthday message before turning the phone off for the trip.

Today is the day of the start of the walk. We got word that Louise was on her way and should arrive at 11, 1 hour before the taxi is due to arrive to take us to the start; talk about cutting it fine! We spent the morning fine tuning what we intend to take with us and making sure that we can put it all into our bags. Lou finally arrived at about 11.20 and the taxi arrived early not long afterwards giving us just a few minutes to get everything stowed away and ready to go.

In the taxi we met Heike, a German woman who was also going on the walk and who turned out to be the only other person leaving on the Otter Trail today. Heike had also done the walk recently and so we hoped she would be a valuable source of information.

After checking into the walk and paying the various fees required, we had to go and sign a form absolving SANparks of any responsibility for our welfare while on the walk, up to and including death or injury directly resulting from their negligence! After that revelation, we headed down to the restaurant just down the road and had lunch. From here we took a taxi to the old start of the walk.

I’m not sure whether it is because it is the old starting point or just a reflection of the general terrain of the walk but, after a brief pleasant stroll along a path through some woodland, the first part was over some quite difficult terrain with sharp rocky ridges. I found this very difficult as my balance is pretty poor and I am not used to carrying such a large pack. The others seemed to be making light work of it and having a good time though.

Towards the end of the day I was getting pretty tired and was very happy when we rounded a corner and the rest huts came into view through the undergrowth. The accommodation is excellent, with 2 huts each containing bunks for 6. Each hut has its own porch and an outdoor fireplace. There is a communal place in the middle where you can have a bigger fire and have all 12 people around it. is also a sink, benches and another fireplace.

Once we had all taken off our packs everything seemed OK in the world again. We found wood to make a fire and explored to locate the shower. The shower was in the middle of the forest and was quite open, very interesting showering out in the open like that. The water was very cold which was probably good for the aching muscles!

We had our last “proper” meal for dinner having porterhouse steaks and boerewors with sweet potatoes. It is pasta and dehydrated sauce from now on in!

It gets properly dark at this time of year by about 6 and by the time we had finished eating the stars were all out. It was dark enough to clearly see the milky way snaking across the sky. It is always magical to be able to see so many stars. Unfortunately I had left my tripod back in England for weight reasons and so didn’t get any pictures of them.

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