Daintree Rainforest Safari: a tour that would never be legal in the states

The Daintree Rainforest tour was by far the best day tour I have ever done. It was another early day, and given our previous night out on the town, we were slightly slow to start.  We were picked up at 7am by our wonderfully spirited tour guide named Gary. After picking up the rest of our tour group, we headed out on an hour or so drive to the edge of the rainforest.

Our first portion of the tour was a ‘Crocodile Cruise’ along the Daintree River. Gary left us in the hands of our cruise captain – for lack of a better title – and our group of about 10 loaded on to an old metal boat. The river was beautiful, and the water so serene it reflected the distant rainforest as if it were a mirror.



Our cruise captain was born and raised on the river, and you could tell. He would point the boat in one direction, run to the front to point a few things out, and right when we all thought we were about head right into the marsh I so wanted to avoid, he ran back to the wheel and turned us around right in time.  This happened about 10 times, one of them we were about one foot away from a snake hanging off a tree, and the other we came within about 10 feet of a ‘resting’ croc.  Not to mention he did this all in barefeet. I’m telling you – he was classic. Now I’m really wishing I had a picture of him, but I guess some things are left better to the imagination.

I was really hoping to see at least one croc, and I was pleasantly surprised (not to mention very excited) when we were able to see three!


Above is a very ecstatic me after the first croc sighting. (he is peaking out of the water basking in the sun)

We were informed by our river-raised tour guide that each crocodile claims its own territory to guard, the only other crocs allowed in the territory are its female companions.


The first croc we sighted was head-honco, and the few we saw after him were his female friends. We also learned it takes a few weeks for most crocodiles to digest their meals, most of which they spend doing exactly what is pictured above.




Another neat fact is that crocs can regulate their temperature by keeping their mouth open, allowing the brain to cool through evaporative cooling while the rest of their body heats up. It is referred to as a ‘mouth gaping’ posture. (pictured above)

After our river cruise we were treated to biscuits and cream with tea. The next leg of our adventure was a safari style drive into the rainforest to visit a beautiful waterfall. Reunited with our trusty tour guide Gary, we drove into the hills up to a locked gate where we abandon our tour bus and all loaded into a legit safari style cruiser.  (pictured below with our tour bus to the left)


After starting the car with a screwdriver (you can’t make this stuff up), Gary took off into the rainforest. I’m pretty sure he drove the entire way without touching the brakes once.  He revved up and down all the hills, taking special interest in freaking us all out by speeding up significantly before crossing any rivers.  I felt like I was on an un-locked version of the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland.

This is pretty much how the entire ride felt…


We got the edge of the waterfall safely and the rainforest was absolutely stunning.



Of course, part of the adventure was jumping in and swimming over to Cassowary Falls.


Next comes the most horrifying part of the adventure. During each of our turns swimming back to the mainland, Gary threw copious amounts fish food into our swimming path so a huge number (I’m talking 30 or 40?) of batfish came to the surface fighting for the food.  Having huge fish flap up against and swim into you is not fun, to say the least.  After we all safely returned to the other side of the swimming hole, Gary brought out more fish food to feed the eels. But no worries, he said he knew they wouldn’t touch us swimming because they were “too picky”.

After drying off, we were told to put our stuff in the safari truck. Gary then drove off in the truck leaving us to wander through the rainforest until we made it back to the truck.  I learned he has a unique sense of humor.


Above is the moment I was overcome with joy upon spotting the truck again. We were a little bit slower making it back because when we were told to put our stuff in the truck, we also put our shoes in the back. My feet were not happy with me.


We had a celebration dance after emerging from the rainforest’s canopy. The group hopped into the safari truck and made our way back through the hills of the rainforest, only to find our actual tour bus (the one that was supposed to return us to Port Douglas and our accommodations) had a flat.

Luckily, two amazing guys on the tour offered to help put on the spare.



With the safari truck back in its home and the tour bus all fixed up, we took a few group pictures, drove out of the rainforest, and made our way back to Port Douglas.



Thanks for the unforgettable day Gary!

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