After successfully scaling some of the world’s highest peaks, this adventurous mother, mountaineer and executive decided it was time to discover a famous hike somewhat closer to home. Thanks to the Otter, Saray Khumalo has fallen in love with Africa all over again.

Since 2012, social entrepreneur Saray Khumalo has made it her mission to summit some of the planet’s most daunting mountains – all to raise money for much needed school libraries across South Africa. With Mount Kilimanjaro, Mera Peak, Lobuche East, Mount Elbrus, Mount Aconcagua, and Mount Everest’s South Summit already under her belt, it was the Garden Route’s iconic Otter Trail that gave her all the feels.

Saray Khumalo-Otter Trail-Garden Route (2)-min
They say home is where the heart is, but how did the world-famous Otter Trail fare against other internationally renowned treks?

Hein Grobler, Wild Card Programme Manager, had the privilege to meet Saray after hearing about her passion for the outdoors. We asked her a few questions.

You’ve recently completed the Otter Trail. Quite a change from Mount Everest…

Apart from the obvious price difference, the Otter was an amazing and unique experience with breathtaking views – and temperatures that are acceptable to the African in me.

Was it your first time hiking the Otter?

This was my first Otter experience and it made me fall in love with Africa once again. I deliberately did not read up on any Otter trail blogs or other people’s experiences as I wanted to make it my own. It was a relaxing five-day trail with awesome views and different challenges every day.

Saray Khumalo-Otter Trail-Garden Route (1)-min

What makes the Otter so special?

I loved the scenic route: how the trail meanders through the forest and ushers hikers onto the rugged coastline with its waves. The clean paths and cabins were a far cry from some of the experiences that I have had on my travels around the world. The opportunity to be self-sufficient for the duration of the hike was refreshing for the pathfinder that I am.

Some unforgettable Otter moments?

When we finally spotted a few otters swimming, unaware of our prying eyes and pointing fingers. It just reminded me of the astounding variety of life forms within the bigger ecosystem. I also loved the ability to use my skills to contribute to my fellow hikers’ experience and how I in turn relied on them to cross the rivers. The teamwork made the hike all the more memorable.

Like all hikes, I love the solace on the trail, which forced me to reflect on life and appreciate this true African treasure. I would recommend the Otter to hikers training especially for Kilimanjaro. Even with its low altitude, the Otter demands mental presence. Thanks to the Otter, I am itching to investigate other trails within our borders as part of my training ground. I will be back soon.

Saray Khumalo-Otter Trail-Garden Route (3)-min

Good to know

  • Due to the Otter’s popularity, it is advisable to book a year in advance.
  • The hike covers some 42 kilometres.
  • Price: R1,231 per adult
  • Bookings: +27 (0)12 426 5111, [email protected]
  • Click here to check availability before you make a booking.
Pictures courtesy of Saray Khumalo