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Trails Comparison

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Mikhail A
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Trails Comparison

Unread postby Mikhail A » Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:48 pm

I am considering undertaking a challanging 4-5-day trail (e.g. Otter or one of back-pack trails in KNP) in late July or early August 2013.

If anyone has experience in more than one multi-day trails, a comparison of trails would be very much appreciated.

Logistics also matters. I am NOT planning to hire a car, so your advice on how to get from Cape Town airport to a respective base camp (internal flight, train, airport shuttle, whatever works better) would also be appreciated.

Thanks

Mikhail

kite
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Re: Trails Comparison

Unread postby kite » Thu Feb 21, 2013 3:38 pm

Mikhail, this is going to be a tough one to help you with. In South Africa public transport is not extensive.
Maybe the Bazbus is an option for you but self drive is the best.

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saraf
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Re: Trails Comparison

Unread postby saraf » Thu Feb 21, 2013 7:52 pm

Hi Mikhail,

Disclaimer from the start, I haven't done any of the trails and I apologise if what I'm going to say seems obvious or you already know.

The obvious difference is that the Otter trail is coastal while the Kruger trails are bushveld. The Otter trial stay in huts overnight so you only need to carry food and water. The Kruger trails are true back-packing so you need to carry your tent as well as food.

The Otter Trail is along a set route and is self guided while the Kruger trails are guided and it is up to the ranger and the others on the trail where you go and how long you walk for.

The logistics is going to be difficult, but not impossible, without a car. I have read somewhere (but can't find it now) that there is a company that will pick people up at the end of the Otter Trail and take them back to Storms River. You may be able to get them to pick you up from a Bazbus or Intercape stop and deliver you back.

To get to the camps in Kruger where the backpacking trails go from is more difficult. You will need to get to Phalaborwa Gate and then try to hitch to the camps. However, a lot of the guides live in that area and you may be able to get a lift with them. Or alternatively there are a lot of tourist businesses in the town of Phalaborwa and you may be able to negotiate a lift from them. I know someone who may be able to help, I'll PM you details.
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Josh of the Bushveld
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Re: Trails Comparison

Unread postby Josh of the Bushveld » Fri Feb 22, 2013 12:18 pm

Mikhail A, welcome to the forums! :)
I have done both the Otter and the Olifants River Backpack Trail (ORBT) (as well as others, like the Fish River Canyon).
The biggest difference for me is how easy the walking is compared to other trails. On the ORBT, there were one or two very small uphills when we took shortcuts across river meanders, but besides that it was almost flat. The paths are also mainly sandy and very easy to walk on. What a difference it makes not having to look at the path all the time so that you don't catch a rock or a tree root. Almost all other trails, Otter included, have a fair amount of elevation gain and loss.

The backpack trails are wilderness trails in that there is no infrastructure at all, so you have to carry everything, including tent. Hutted trails like the Otter are obviously very different. Wilderness trails like those in the Drakensberg also require you to carry a tent etc.

From a logistics point of view, I think you will have difficulty with a Kruger trail. It is not easy at all to get to the departure camps without your own car. The Otter is a lot easier, you can fly in to George or PE, and there are lots of shuttle companies and also small accommodation places that will shuttle you.

Please let me know if you have any more questions.
Also, please keep us updated as to your plans, if you need someone to join you on your trail I'd definitely be keen!
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Mikhail A
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Re: Trails Comparison

Unread postby Mikhail A » Fri Feb 22, 2013 2:50 pm

Josh, saraf and kite,

Thank you all for taking pains to answer my queries.

Description of KNP back-pack trails (Olifants, Mhongolo, Lonely Bull) looks tempting, although I do not see a big difference among them. If anyone could explain the difference, I would be grateful.

I would not like to discard Kruger so far. To me logistics does not look impossible (probably just because I do not have real travel experience in South Africa). There is Kruger Mpumalanga International Airport with daily flights from Cape Town.

http://www.mceglobal.net/TravelPlanning ... fault.aspx

And there are a number of shuttle companies in the airport and I will try to liaise with them to find out if a transfer is feasible.

http://www.mceglobal.net/TravelPlanning ... fault.aspx

Josh, which of your trails is the most picturesque in terms of nature and animals?

Thanks

Mikhail

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Dotty
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Re: Trails Comparison

Unread postby Dotty » Sat Feb 23, 2013 4:11 pm

have good trip :wink:
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Josh of the Bushveld
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Re: Trails Comparison

Unread postby Josh of the Bushveld » Mon Feb 25, 2013 8:11 am

Mikhail, the problem with Kruger is its not just getting to a gate, you have to get to the departing camp. I imagine this will cost you a lot if you get a shuttle or something (I'm not sure there are even companies who do it). The other logistic issue with a KNP backpack trail is you need a tent and a sleeping pad/mattress, not just a sleeping bag.

The biggest difference between the 3 KNP backpack trails is that the Olifants has a *lot* more walking, a minimum of about 45km, depending on the level of the river and its tributaries. A guide once told me he did an ORBT where they walked over 65km (in 3 days) because they couldn't cross the river (and take shortcuts over the meanders).

In terms of seeing game, even though you're in the Kruger, its very difficult to see game while you're on foot. The animals are generally aware of your presence (and disappear) long before you're aware of them. (That said a lot of people have seen very nice things on foot).

The scenery on the Otter is truly spectacular! You have a good chance of seeing otters and other marine life on it too.

I don't have digital photos of my Otter Trail. My ORBT photos can be found here.
The 'mite formerly known as joshilewis

FGASA Level 1 Guide

Glen Reenen TR

15-18 June: Berg-en-dal


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