The last excursion of our trip was to the rainforest. It was a full day excursion with Down Under Tours, and we were picked up bright and early from our hotel in a 4-wheel drive bus.
We headed up to the Port Douglas area again and made our first stop of the day at the Mossman Gorge Centre inside the Daintree Rainforest. Our group sat down for some morning tea, coffee and muffins before attending a smoke ceremony put on by a native Indigenous local and employee welcoming us to his land. After the fire was lit, we all had to walk in a circle around the fire pit waving/wafting the smoke towards us. It was a bit cheesy, but part of the experience. The main leading the smoke ceremony talked about the rainforest and how to use and respect the land as a resource—like what can be used as body paint and a specific type of leaf that turns into a soap that can be used on bug bites because of the healing properties.
After the welcoming ceremony our driver led us on a walk through part of Mossman Gorge while pointing out the different plants. We stopped by the river where you’ll see people swimming and hanging out on the granite boulders. Our guide was telling us that as it moves through spring towards summer, that he would encourage people to be careful with swimming in the river there. Apparently if a storm or big rain happens higher up in the rainforest, flash flooding will happen and water will rush down the river with no warning, potentially wiping out whatever is in its path. Scary, yeah?
After visiting Mossman Gorge, we continued our drive through the rainforest heading to where we would be eating our BBQ lunch that day. I’m not sure if we didn’t quite understand this excursion’s description or what, but there was sooooooo much time riding in the bus that we weren’t expecting. I expected to be walking around through the rainforest, but instead we drove through it and looked at everything through the bus windows. We were both “over” full day excursions at this point in our trip (our fault for including so many), so we were antsy to get out of the bus and do something else. We did make a pit stop at the Alexandra Lookout and were able to snap some panoramic photos. The panoramic photo below gets larger if you click on it.
After lunch, we left for Cape Tribulation Beach. It happened to be low tide at that point, so we were able to walk pretty far out on the sand before hitting the water. There were even some people sunbathing in an area where there would be water at high tide.
Our last stop of the day was a cruise down the Daintree River, where we saw at least a half dozen wild crocodiles! Most of the crocs we saw were young (18 months and younger), but we did see one that the guide guessed to be about 6 years old. It was swimming through the river, which apparently isn’t very common when the weather and water temperature gets really warm. The mangroves that lined either side of the river were seriously impressive.
Tim and I both agree that the last portion of the excursion somewhat helped “save” the day, and I don’t know if I would necessarily say that. The whole day was over-hyped and while it was great to see the rainforest and real crocs in the wild, we could have spent the day doing something else. Or at least spent more time in each place, rather than so much time on the bus. Even if this excursion would have been early on in our trip, we probably still wouldn’t recommended this excursion to others. Putting all of that aside, we had a fantastic vacation and were dreading the 12 hour flight back to LA from Auckland the following day.