exploring the

Daintree Rainforest

One of Australia’s most precious natural wonders, the Daintree Rainforest, at 180 million years old, is the oldest continuously living rainforest in the world.

 

When you visit this UNESCO World Heritage site, on the land of the Yalanji people, you will be inspired by the diversity of the flora and fauna and marvel at the distinct landscapes you encounter.

Getting there

Cairns International Airport is the gateway to the Daintree. Follow the scenic Captain Cook Highway north to the Daintree River where you take the car ferry to reach the magnificent ancient forest. With the sparkling ocean on one side and lush rainforest on the other, this is one of the world’s most beautiful drives.

Top Things to See

Mossman Gorge

The Mossman Gorge cultural centre is an indigenous eco-tourism development. Take a ‘dreamtime’ walk with a guide and learn fascinating and ancient stories about this part of the Daintree. Mossman Gorge is part of the oldest surviving rainforest in the world and you will be captivated by the canopy and the many species of flora and fauna you can see as you wander around. Park your car and take a two minute bus ride up the hill to the start of a short walk through the forest to a picturesque river. The gorge water has a strong current in places and it’s fun to climb the rocks then body surf down the river on the slipstream.

 

In the shallows, fish swim around bravely interacting with humans as they paddle.

Rainforest & National Park

The UNESCO world heritage Daintree rainforest is the oldest continually surviving wet tropical rainforest in the world. Every track leads to wonderous views of ocean and forest environments. Look carefully and you will see forest species like the blue winged Ulysses butterfly, tree kangaroos and possums. Where the forest meets the ocean, beware of crocodiles. Cassowaries roam the bush, honeyeaters flit between the branches of the canopy and golden orb spiders spin their strong webs. The Daintree is a wonderland of flora and fauna. Within its boundaries you will find rock pools, waterfalls, and 17,000 hectares of lush rainforest. At the Daintree Discovery Centre you will find plenty of self-guided tour options or professional group tours.

The Daintree Village

The Daintree Village is the heart of the area. It’s a quirky little town and is a great jumping off point for many of the experiences you can have in the National park and rainforest. Visit the pub, purchase supplies from the local store or book your tours and cruises at the tourist offices here. Indulge at one of the restaurants or do a little shopping for artistic treasures. Accommodation ranges from bed and breakfasts, budget cabins, farm stays and luxury lodges. With nature walks and bird-watching tours available, this little town is a great place to begin your Daintree adventure.

 

Best things to do in the Daintree

You can join a day tour from Port Douglas or Cairns but it’s great to have the freedom of your own car when exploring the Daintree.

Cruising

Seeing crocodiles in their native environment is one of the wonders of the Daintree and there are many options for cruises up and down the Daintree River.

Bruce Belcher’s Daintree River Cruises are a simple tour down the river, looking for crocs. Sit under the canopy of the boat, raincoats on in the wet season, and enjoy the thrill of the chase. The guides know the regular haunts of crocs and if, by chance, you don’t see one, they’ll let you try for free another day. Enjoy a pie and soft drink as part of your entry. Sit outside in an upcycled old tram and watch the chooks peck at the scraps.

Taking a Wildlife Cruise run by the Daintree River Cruises centre is a fascinating way to learn about the history of the people and the wildlife of the rainforest.

The Crocodile express offers two different cruises.

Ziplining

While keeping a definite eye on safety, the guides at Jungle Surfing Canopy Tours are also focused on having fun. Starting with a walk a short way up the mountain to a large hamster wheel that winches people up the zipline to the first platform, 60 feet above the ground. When you are dangling above this ancient UNESCO listed World Heritage forest and look out to the ocean you have a unique perspective and a real sense of how incredible vast it is. This is an exhilarating way to experience the forest. This company also runs two hour guided night walks – a must for anyone wanting to see nocturnal animals in the wild.

Camping

Camping sites in the pristine Daintree are plentiful and campers have dozens of options for secluded, spectacular sites to be at one with nature. Wake up to the sound of birds singing out their morning calls, breathe in the earthy scent of the forest and observe the wildlife in its natural environment. Visitors can camp in the rainforest, along river banks and on beaches. Warning: if you are wanting to camp near water do check with rangers and take note of crocodile warnings. Some accommodation providers have campsites available adjacent to buildings on the property. Most campsites have bathroom facilities for visitors to use.

Choosing Where to Stay

The Daintree has some excellent accommodation options which add a touch of luxury to your travels. Most have day spas in which you can let go of all your troubles and completely relax in the forest environment.

Lodges

The Daintree has something to suit every budget. For cabins in the forest, try the Heritage Lodge. There is a restaurant on site and options for couples or families.

 

Bird watchers will love the Red Mill House. Professional wildlife photographers and enthusiasts alike will have some very special experiences.

 

Bloomfield is a luxury ecolodge resort. The charming rooms offer complete privacy and seclusion from other guests, if wanted. Dining spaces are communal for those who like to mingle. All meals are provided so you don’t have to worry about a single thing while you visit.

 

For even more luxury, try a private home rental like Black Palm. With simple, stylish interiors that blend seamlessly into the rainforest environment and a delightful creek running through the property, this is somewhere to rest for a few days.

Luxury Hotels

The Daintree Ecolodge is an oasis in the forest. At night, listen to the cacophony of frog song, by day look out for cassowaries and other wildlife roaming around the property. Take some time out in the divine day spa and enjoy a contemporary Australian meal at the Julaymba Restaurant overlooking the water.

 

Silky Oaks is a revered and special lodge that really makes you feel like you are living in a tree house. The dining area is up in the treetops with almost 360 degree views of the forest. There is nothing more tranquil than a few days at this special lodge.

 

Cockatoo Hill Retreat and Mist at Cape Tribulation are two boutique choices with luxurious accommodation. Enjoy the views and the spirit of the Daintree in these magnificent escapes from normal life.

Tours and packages

Touring with a guide is the best way to see the Daintree National Park. You get an insider’s knowledge and passion for the area as you explore a part of the world that most people never experience.

 

Daintree Wonder Tours run full day trips from Cairns and are great if you are short of time but still want to enjoy the highlights of the ancient forest.

 

Daintree Tours departs from Port Douglas each morning and also runs a full day trip to the rainforest. It includes a crocodile spotting cruise as well.

 

Adventure North Australia tours are operated by indigenous guides who guide you on a sensational Daintree Dreaming tour. Learn about traditional ways of hunting and gathering in this amazing rainforest with a Kubirri Warra descendant.