I was not prepared for the lack of water on the trail. In our briefing we were told on Day 2 & 3 you cannot drink the water along the trail (from streams and rivers). On these days we were very prepared, made sure we filled up at the huts, pre-soaked our lunches and so on. But on Day 1 the only water for you to drink is at the waterfall (which you have to swim to), and then at the huts. The water at the SAN Parks office was not drinkable, so make sure you fill up! On Day 4 there was one dodgy water source, you had to venture upstream to get it where it was flowing, and on Day 5 there was no water flowing in any of the streams. I did this trail in November, so people doing it in winter may have a different experience. Make sure you have at least 3 litres per person, especially if you like a coffee stop :)
Huts (and tents)
The huts are gorgeous! There are two huts, each with 2 x 3 tier bunk beds and mattresses. The mattresses (apart from hut 5) are newly covered in a plastic / canvas material. I would recommend having a cloth / your towel as a sheet so you are more comfy. The huts have a deck, a bench or two, a counter, a few hooks, and a black board (haha not sure why!). The huts were all nice and clean on our hike.
The huts are separated and each have their own outdoor fireplace. There is one central boma with an undercover brick fireplace and two mobile braais. The boma has a sink, and a large tiled table with benches.
Each hut / camp now has 3 x safari dome tents, there are still only 12 mattresses. Some of the tents are on a slope so not super comfy, but the three couples in our group stayed in the tents every night and we were all fine :).
Trash & Bins
You can leave your trash each day in the bin/bins at each hut. Please make sure you put your trash in a bag and in the bin. The bins are supposed to prevent baboons, monkeys and genets from getting into the trash but they are not well maintained so some of the locks are broken. Make sure you properly close the bins at all times to prevent attracting the animals.
There is micro trash all over the camp site, and then trash nests where the creatures take your stolen goods to. I was quite saddened by the amount of trash around the campsites and that SAN Parks does not seem to be making any effort to pick up these pieces of litter which will no doubt fly into the ocean at some point.
You will encounter creatures in your camp, and along the trail (we bumped into a Puff Adder on Day 1 on the trail!). Genets will hang out at the taps where you wash your dishes at Huts 1-4, make sure you eat every grain of rice off your plate / scrape them properly into the bin. And make sure you keep the hut doors closed and your tents zipped up, they will rummage around. The Cape Genet is nocturnal so you only need to worry about them in the evenings and throughout the night.
We had a big baboon invasion at Hut 5. We had not had any issues with them until day 4, we spotted them after we crossed the Bloukrans River and it was possibly the same troop that followed us to the hut. There were rangers at the huts just after we arrived, but we were not expecting the baboons to be so brazen. They stole from our bags outside the huts, tried to steal a whole bag (luckily it was tied to a tent pole). One of them (possibly the alpha doing all the stealing) climbed into one of the huts through a window not properly closed, our group was on the deck of this hut while he was inside. And then back at the hut where the tent campers had now put their bags inside the hut and locked the door and windows, the baboon ripped open the locked door and ripped through a bag. The gate on this hut was broken, as were the bins at this location. As soon as we left camp the following day, the baboons ripped the locked door open again, and went through the bins.
Apart from writing to SAN Parks ( which I have done, as well as phoned them :)), I am not sure what else one can do, perhaps keen all your things in one hut and always have someone there until you are ready to go to sleep. The huts on Day 4 are very spread out, you don't have sight and are not in earshot from hut to hut or even hut to boma!
Each hut has 1 flush toilet. The toilets are either free standing, or in the same block as a shower. The toilets were very clean, I was quite impressed. The toilet on Day 4 has the most exceptional view!
Each hut has a cold shower, some are located in the forest / with a beautiful view, and some are standard showers with curtains in the same building as the toilet. One shower per hut. Each hut also has a place to swim, so you can choose what type of shower you would like :)
Fire Places & Fire Wood
I put out a poll on Instagram before I left on the trail to see if one could rely on the fire places and wood, and if there were grids. I can safely say that you can 100% rely on the fire places and there are multiple grids at each hut.
There are 5 fire places at each one, one outside each hut, and then 3 under the boma's. Spoiled for choice.
All of the firewood is mostly covered, some huts have the firewood stored underneath the huts in little cubicles, others on the side of the huts, and some just stacked in the boma. Unless there is a radical storm, you will be able to use the firewood. Make sure you consider your fellow hikers and leave some for them!
Trail Aids & Signs
There are plenty of trail aids on this hike. From bridges to stair cases, to steps, to ropes. You are still expected to do some rock hopping, boulder climbing, and tricky sections, but they have really considered everyone and made sure you can safely get through the trail!
The trails are very well sign posted. Every exit route and detour is sign posted. These signs help to indicate where on the map you are, so if you don't have GPS don't fear, you will be able to figure out where you are every day. If the ocean is on your left, and the forest on your right, you will never get lost.