5 Day trip- All meals, lodging and activities included
• Understanding ecosystems at risk in two UNESCO World Heritage areas
• Marine studies at the outer Great Barrier Reef with snorkelling
• Daintree Rainforest & Highlands
• Meeting endemic wildlife and searching for endangered species
• Learning traditional aboriginal hunting, tracking & land management methods
Overview - 5 Day Educational Adventure
The Wet Tropics and The Great Barrier Reef, two UNESCO World Heritage areas, are some of the most biologically diverse regions on the planet. On this journey, students discover how and why some species are vulnerable to even the smallest change in climate, resulting in an ecosystem at risk.
Travelling to a variety of locations, students will learn from zoologists, marine biologists, traditional owners, and protected area managers the challenges facing these ecosystems.
At the same time, students experience first hand the beauty and fragility of these areas: snorkeling in a colourful underwater universe, wildlife spotting in an emerald jungle, and sleeping among the sounds of the rainforest.
Meals are a variety of all-you-can-eat buffets, BBQs, fresh salads and tropical fruits, and unique restaurants. Accommodation is in a clean and safe central Cairns hostel, and cozy cabins in the heart of the Daintree Rainforest.
At the end of this trip, students will be able to identify why areas of the Wet Tropics and The Great Barrier Reef are considered 'at risk', what strategies management bodies have in place for their protection, and the impacts of environmental degradation. Options include helping the reef through the CoralWatch survey project, a jungle canopy flying fox, a night hike and the Daintree Discovery Centre.
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Day 1: Arrival and Educational Presentations
Welcome to Cairns! You arrive by midday and are met at the airport by one of our staff and transferred to your award-winning hostel in the town's restaurant and shopping district.
Located only a few blocks from the waterfront, attractions, restaurants and the marina are all within easy walking distance. Your hostel features an outdoor pool, laundry facilities, large communal area with couches and pool table, free internet and WiFi. Each room has its own bathroom, and sleeps six students. Theses immaculate rooms also have ample luggage storage, hairdryers and linen. This excellent accommodation was recently inducted into the Tourism Tropical North Queensland's Hall of Fame for consistently rating excellent in the budget accommodation category.
In the afternoon, you have a discussion and presentation by a local representative from either the Wet Tropics Management Authority (WETMA) or Queensland Parks & Wildlife (QPWS) about traditional and contemporary protected area management. Topics can include human and climate impacts, biophysical interactions, and the role of geomorphic and hydrologic processes on ecosystems.
Then in the early evening you attend a fun and dynamic presentation by a marine biologist designed to help you understand why The Great Barrier Reef is an ecosystem at risk. You find out about threatened species and the consequences of climate change and human activity on the reef. In addition, you learn more about coral biology and ecology, the major invertebrate groups and the different types fish that live at the Great Barrier Reef. On the lighter side, you'll also discover fish that you can watch change colour, fish that change gender, which animal breathes through his bum, and how and where to find the creatures from Finding Nemo.
Accommodation: Cairns Central Hostel
Meals Included: Lunch and Dinner
Day 2:Snorkelling at The Great Barrier Reef & Marine Studies
Any student studying ecosystems at risk cannot miss the Great Barrier Reef--a UNESCO World Heritage Site and easily one of the world's top natural wonders. It is also a fragile ecosystem that must be carefully managed to accommodate the millions of tourists who visit each year to snorkel and dive.
Today you spend the day exploring these wonders of the outer Great Barrier Reef, snorkeling at reefs that showcase its beauty and biodiversity. Flotation devices are available and first-time snorkelers are well-catered for.
Using waterproof coral ID tiles, you can identify a host of hard and soft corals, such as the whimsical elephant ear, broccoli, and spaghetti corals. Waterproof fish ID tiles will also help you recognize beauties such as luminescent parrot fish, the chocolate-dipped damsel, and the Picasso triggerfish. Wally the gigantic wrasse, giant clams, sea cucumbers, and several types of turtles are also popular residents at these reefs.
During the winter months (June – September), both minke and humpback whales migrate through this region, giving you the chance to spot one of these magnificent creatures. You return to Cairns at the end of the day and enjoy a hearty dinner on the waterfront.
OPTION 1: You may add the services of our marine biologist who will provide mini-lectures, interpretation and guided snorkeling/diving expedition to ensure you understand marine ecosystems more in depth. Topics can be tailored to your school's educational objectives, and can include: THE DYNAMICS OF WEATHER AND NATURAL STRESSES (i.e. CYCLONES) ON THE REEF, fish biology and feeding groups, the evolution of symbiosis and mimicry, coral reef zonation patterns and biology of corals, and management of the Great Barrier Marine Park (tourism, water quality, and threats such as the Crown of Thorns starfish and climate change)* REEF TRIP CAN ALSO INCLUDE EYE on THE REEF Data survey work facilitated by your marine biologist in order to Give your students an opportunty to give back to the enviroment.
OPTION 2: Instead of just one day at the Great Barrier Reef, why not go out on a liveaboard boat? Give your students an opportunity to give back to the environment by participating in the boat's CoralWatch data surveying.*
Accommodation: Cairns Central Hostel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 3: Rainforest Ecology, Biological Comparisons and the Daintree Rainforest
This morning you explore the biological and geological marvels of the Wet Tropics highlands with your guide. Your guide addresses the issues of ecosystems at risk through a visit to two vulnerable rainforest environments.
You ascend to the tablelands, significant for anyone studying ecosystems at risk, as it hosts a rapidly disappearing population of lemuroids and other animals. Through a walk and discussions with your guide, you learn about how certain animals can be indicator species and can act as an early warning to monitoring biologists. In addition, you discuss biogeographical processes: invasion, succession, modification, and resilience.
Next you ferry across the Daintree River and enter the Daintree, home of the magical ancient rainforest where two World Heritage areas also lie side by side. With your guide you discover why, at one hundred and thirty-five million years old, the Daintree is considered to be some of the oldest rainforest in the world.
For students studying ecology, this is also an important area for study: this area of the country has the highest concentration of primitive flowering plant families in the world, Australia's rarest mammal (the Murina florious bat) and 13 species of birds found nowhere else on earth. Here you look for local endemic species, including the rare spotted-tailed quoll, Boyd's Forest Dragons, and the Daintree's endangered and giant flightless bird, the cassowary.
Your Daintree lodge boasts an attractive swimming pool, games room, and a superb location completely surrounded by rainforest. The wood and canvas bungalows are built safari tent-style with high ceilings to catch the natural breezes, insect protection to ensure the locals are kept out, and large open spaces to give you room to move.
Accommodation: Daintree Rainforest Cabins
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 4: Daintree Rainforest, Aboriginal Traditional Hunting & Tracking
After a night of immersion in the rainforest, you wake to birdcalls and the chatter of the jungle. After a hearty breakfast, you participate in a debate in which each small group takes on a role and presents their argument either for or against the building of the Daintree road. This is a fun way for you to get involved with all sides of an environmental debate with a real-life example that gained media attention all over the world.
As an alternative, you can swing above the rainforest canopy on a flying fox, or visit the award-winning Daintree Discovery Centre that gives you access to the rainforest via a boardwalk tour, a 23 metre high Canopy Tower, Aerial Walkway and comprehensive Display Centre (extra cost, see inclusions page)
Later you depart the Daintree and walk with two gentle aboriginal guides of the Kuku Yalanji tribe along the coast they've called home for thousands of years. Aboriginal brothers teach will teach you to throw a spear and you try your hand at catching food the traditional way -- hunting for fish, mud crabs, mussels and other "bush tucker" among the mangroves.
For the brothers, their core ethos is related to understanding and sharing the belief that hunting and gathering come with the responsibility of respect for resources and management which they continue today and pass on to others. Afterwards you are invited to your indigenous guide's home where you hear tales of the native "Dreamtime" and feast on what you've caught. This is an authentic interaction with aboriginal people that allows you to see how indigenous traditions are integrated into the modern world.
Accommodation: Cairns Central Hostel
Meals Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 5: Departure
Today after breakfast you are transferred to the Cairns airport for your flight back home.
Meals Included: Breakfast
- Small World Journeys zoologist guide
- All activities and instruction as described in the itinerary
- Specialty guides and educators
- Cairns airport transfers
- Transportation to activities
- All breakfasts
- All lunches
- All dinners
- 3 nights at a Cairns central hostel (6-share single gender rooms w/bathroom)
- 1 night Daintree Rainforest cabins (single gender dorm-style cabins with shared bathrooms and showers)
- Mask, fins, and snorkel hire on the reef trip
- Waterproof fish and coral ID tiles
- Marine park and national park fees
- Small World Journeys reusable water bottle for every participant
- Pre-trip educational information
- Risk managment assessment on request
- A 5 square metre plot of Daintree rainforest adopted in your group's name
ClimateCare™ carbon offsetting for a carbon-neutral trip
What's not Included:
- Travel insurance - not required but highly recommended
Personal expenses (phone, internet, laundry, etc.)
- *2 Day/1 Night liveaboard trip to the Great Barrier Reef, including CoralWatch reef survey work (additional $280 per student)
- *Marine Biologist to accompany group and Eye on the Reef survey work (enquire for rates & more info)
- Daintree Night Hike ($40 per person)
- Jungle canopy flying fox ($90 per person)
- The Daintree Discovery Centre ($14 per student)
Where does the trip start?
Your trip leader/guide will meet you in the Cairns Airport Baggage Claim when you arrive on Day 1 in Cairns. We suggest you arrive between 9:00 - 11:00 am on the first day, and schedule your departure before noon on the last day.
What qualifications do your trip leader/guides have?
Our guides have a government-issued Working With Children approval (also known as a "Blue Card") that is only given after an extensive background check, and allows them the ability to work with children. Each guide also has a Senior First Aid and CPR certification and government-issued Driver's Authority.
Many of our student trip leaders have higher degrees in environmental science, marine biology or experiential education, and there is one thing which unites them: a love for teaching young people about the outdoors.
We choose guides with extensive experience having worked with young people. They will be with the group the entire trip, and are responsible for the supervision and safety of all students.
For more information, see Our Guides
How do we make sure our educational goals are met?
If you have specific educational goals, or wish to include certain topics or areas of study, please tell us. Our guides have a range of knowledge about flora, fauna, natural history, geology, botany, and marine science and can tailor this program to include topics your students are studying in school, for example, rainforest ecology.
Can we change this itinerary to fit our budget or to include different activities?
Yes! This itinerary is just a sample of what we can arrange for your group. Have a look at our other itineraries - you can mix and match activities you like and we'll create a custom trip just for your group. We are happy to discuss custom options that are tailored to your budget.
What kind of insurance do you have in place?
Small World Journeys has public liability insurance up to $10,000,000 and is required for us to maintain our commercial permits for the national parks.
What is the weather like in Cairns?
Cairns is a tropical place, and outdoor activities can be enjoyed year-round. In our summer (December-February), the weather is at its warmest and wettest. You can expect hot days with occasional tropical storms, producing lush green hillsides and plenty of waterfalls. Average temperatures are 23-31 degrees Celsius/73-87 Fahrenheit.
In our winter (June-August), the climate is at its most mild, with warm days, cool nights, and little rainfall. Average temperatures are 18-26 degrees Celsius/64-78 degrees Fahrenheit.
In spring (September - November), days are warm to hot and in autumn (March - May) temperatures are still warm to hot, with more chances of rain than in spring.
What is your safety record?
Our safety record is immaculate. Yes, we have had students receive minor cuts and bruises, but no injury requiring a hospital visit. We carry a first aid kit in our vehicles, as well as on the guide's person when in remote areas.
Safety is absolutely our number one concern at all times. We do everything in our power to make sure each trip is as safe as it can possibly be. Small World Journeys' trip leaders adhere to a comprehensive Risk Management Strategy.
What should we bring with us?
We will provide you with a suggested packing list in your Confirmation Packet. Some important things to remember to bring are lightweight clothes for the tropics, (but a jacket for cool winter nights), sunscreen, hat, and swim suit.
Do you do risk management assessments?
Yes. We evaluate and re-evaluate the safety of each of our destinations and activities, and we always reserve the right to modify or cancel an itinerary if the guide feels that conditions are unsafe. We will gladly provide a risk management assessment specific to your trip on request.
Small World Journeys' staff also adhere to a comprehensive Risk Management Strategy.
What kind of food will we have?
We understand how important food is to young people – and heaps of it!
A typical breakfast will be a continental breakfast including juices, cereals, toast & jams (and optional vegemite!) and a typical packed lunch will be a meat and salad sandwich, drink, chips, biscuits and a piece of fresh fruit. Cooked lunches include hot dogs and hamburgers and on the reef trip you are treated to a cold buffet lunch.
Dinners include all-you-can-eat Italian, modern Aussie and seafood restaurants, and we place a big emphasis on variety and healthful options.
Best of all, we carry our Bottomless Snack Box when we travel to ensure that no one is ever hungry.
Where will we sleep?
We have chosen accommodation that is safe, clean and unique. In Cairns, you stay at a clean and safe hostel close to the waterfront. Rooms are single gender, shared ONLY with students in your group (no "strangers" in the room). You also stay in comfortable dorm-style cabins in the Cairns Highlands where students are separated by gender.
The hostel has laundry facilities so you may wash your clothes during the trip.
We have a 24-hour mobile number that parents may ring at any time during their child's trip if there is an emergency, and we will also provide the group coordinator with contact details of where the group is staying each night.
How active will we be on this tour?
You do not have to be an athlete to join this trip; however, our trips are NOT “sight-seeing tours”. Our trips are active, and we will be outside the majority of the day, every day. We can accommodate a range of fitness and skill levels within one trip, and you will always have options.
How do we arrange airfare?
We do not arrange airfare in house, however we do work closely with several travel agents. In Australia, we recommend Kim Salter, our Melbourne-based travel agent. Contact Kim at email@example.com or call + 61 0433 324 455 or toll free within Australia 1 300 640 821.
Why should we travel with Small World Journeys?
LOCAL SUPPORT & KNOWLEDGE
Our office is in Cairns – this means we are right around the corner for 24-hour support, to answer your questions, or if you have an emergency in the middle of the trip.
Local knowledge means we know the restaurant owners who catch their own fish (and then deliciously prepare it for you!), where to buy the real indigenous-made souvenirs, and where the best swimming holes are.
Being an “eco” tour operator means more to us than just offering walks outdoors. It means we pay to offset the carbon emissions from your trip, give a percentage of profits to local environmental and community organizations, plant trees, recycle, and participate in Rainforest Rescue’s Adopt-a-Square program. See 10 Reasons Why We’re Eco for more on what we do for our environment and community.
HUNDREDS OF HAPPY STUDENTS
We could tell you that we provide highly professional customer service, respond attentively and consistently exceed our guests’ expectations. But don’t believe us! Read some of our testimonials or ask us for references from past guests who are willing to tell you all about their experience with Small World Journeys.
You get a Small World Journeys water bottle, carbon offsetting, and a 5 square metre of Daintree rainforest adopted in the group's name. Plus you get an unforgettable trip too.
For international groups: do we need a visa to travel to Australia?
All visitors to Australia need a visa, with the exception of visitors from New Zealand. An Australian entry visa, commonly known as an ETA (Electronic Travel Authority) will let you spend up to three months in Australia. In most countries it is easily obtained by the travel agent who issues your ticket, and should be free of charge. You can also get an ETA on line by visiting www.eta.immi.gov.au. There is no need for you to visit an Australian diplomatic office to submit an application, and you do not need a stamp or label in your passport. Upon check in at the airport, the airline agent will be able to confirm your ETA electronically. All visitors will also need a passport, valid for at least six months after the planned return date.
Once you book your trip, we will send out a Confirmation Packet to you with detailed information that should answer most of your questions. In addition, you can feel free to email us anytime at: firstname.lastname@example.org