• Explore the outer Great Barrier Reef from an eco-certified catamaran
• Look for nocturnal wildlife in the Daintree Rainforest on a night walk
• Sea kayak or horse ride down the gorgeous Cape Tribulation beach
• Hold a koala, feed a kangaroo and come close to crocs
• Stay in the heart of the rainforest in a private cabin
Overview - 4 Days / 3 Nights Trip
On this active adventure, dive into a deep green world of the Daintree rainforest and a turquoise sea of life at The Great Barrier Reef.
Before your trip to the reef, you’ll first learn about its most popular residents in a presentation by a marine biologist. Then a sun-kissed island serves as a jumping off point for snorkelling among neon-coloured parrot fish, blue sea stars, giant clams and green and loggerhead turtles. Try a SCUBA dive if you wish –also known as a resort dive—without needing a certification (A special bonus in the winter months is the chance of spotting migrating humpback and minke whales!)
Later in your trip you find that the rainforest provides a rich habitat for crocodiles, ancient flowing plants, the giant flightless cassowary, and a dizzying array of birdlife. As night falls, you look for tree kangaroos, sugar gliders and the beguiling forest dragon with a naturalist who knows this jungle well. Then see the rainforest from a jungle canopy zipline, sea kayak or canter your horse down Cape Tribulation Beach for an ultimate tropical adventure.
Day 1: Arrival, Transfer and Reef Presentation
Welcome to Cairns! You arrive in Cairns and are warmly greeted by one of our staff members at the airport. You are then transferred to your accommodation.
Your hotel won Trip Advisor's Traveller's Choice Award for 2012, and continues to rank as one of Cairns best rated hotels. You will enjoy the complimentary WiFi in your room, while all rooms have ensuites and air-conditioning, flat screen TVs with Austar and tea & coffee making facilities. The hotel also has guest laundry, a tropical pool and spa. It is also easy walking distance to shops and restaurants, and two blocks from the Esplanade and waterfront.
In the early evening you will attend a fun and dynamic presentation by a marine biologist designed to help you understand coral biology and ecology, the major invertebrate groups and the different types fish that live at the Great Barrier Reef. In addition, you find out about threatened species and the consequences of climate change on the reef. On the lighter side, you’ll discover fish that you can watch change colour, fish that change gender, which animal breathes through his bum, and how and where to find “Nemo.” There’s plenty of hands-on time, and this is a great way to enhance your reef experience.
Accommodation: Heritage Cairns Hotel
Day 2: Great Barrier Reef - Snorkelling and Optional Diving
No trip to Cairns is complete without a visit to the outer Great Barrier Reef—the second UNESCO World Heritage Site on our journey and easily one of the world’s top natural wonders. Today you sail to the Reef aboard an eco-friendly catamaran, recipient of the Advanced Ecotourism Climate Action Innovator Award.
First stop is Michaelmas Cay at The Great Barrier Reef - an important seabird island refuge and marine park. At its height (during the summer breeding season), as many as 20,000 birds nest on the island. Snorkelling can be done right of the sand cay, and for those who prefer not to snorkel, an optional glass bottom boat will still give you a glimpse of this underwater universe.
Second stop is the gorgeous Paradise Reef, that truly lives up to its name. For snorkelers, giant clams, angel, butterfly and parrot fish, turtles, sea stars and corals of a thousand hues are all within reach. Among the 1,800 species of fish and 450 species of coral, you can expect to see Wally the giant wrasse, fan corals, sea cucumbers and just about the entire cast of “Finding Nemo”. First-time snorkelers are well-looked after, with instruction on how to get the most out of your reef experience. You return to Cairns in the late afternoon.
Accommodation: Heritage Cairns Hotel
Included: Breakfast and Lunch
Day 3: Wildlife Sanctuary, Croc-Spotting Cruise & Daintree Rainforest with Night Walk
Considered one of the most scenic drives in Australia, the Captain Cook Highway winds north from Cairns and treats you to views of golden beaches and the translucent sea. Travel today in the company of a guide and small group to the famed Cape Tribulation, the site at which explorer Captain Cook ran aground. It is here where two UNSECO World Heritage areas also lie side by side. Along the way, visit a refuge for Australian animals such as crocodiles, kangaroos, koalas, and countless exotic birds. A guide educates you about these different species, and you’ll have an opportunity to interact with the animals up close, whether it’s holding a python, feeding a lorikeet or meeting a mother kangaroo and her joey.
Next you’ll take a croc-spotting river cruise on the Daintree River where you can look for these magnificent reptiles in the wild. Then enter the Daintree, home of the magical ancient rainforest. At one hundred and thirty-five million years old, the Daintree is some of the oldest rainforest in the world. Approximately 430 species of birds live here, including 13 species that are found nowhere else on earth. You take a walk through lowland rainforest with your guide to learn more about the flora and fauna of this region.
Your Daintree lodge boasts an attractive swimming pool, wooden deck for sunbathing, and 7 acres of absolute beachfront property on Cape Tribulation beach. The lodge also has guest laundry, an internet café, pool tables and other games – perfect for families. Your room has its own bathroom, air conditioner, small refrigerator, tea & coffee making facilities, and superb location in the rainforest.
A special treat tonight is a night hike with a professional naturalist on a private swath of rainforest to spot some of the nocturnal animals of the Daintree and learn more about this significant place. While wildlife behaviour and fauna sightings are unpredictable, you will enjoy a genuine wilderness experience. You will return to your lodge by 10:30 pm
Accommodation: Cape Trib Beachhouse
Included: Breakfast and Lunch
Day 4: Daintree Rainforest and Optional Horse Riding, Sea Kayaking or Jungle Canopy Zip Line
In the early morning the animals stir, the rainforest sings with birdcalls, and today you can explore the world of wildlife that comes to life when the sun rises. This morning check out Cape Tribulation beach and see why this area, also part of the Kuku Yalanji tribal area, has great spiritual and cultural significance. Explore the Kulki boardwalk that runs through rare tropical lowland forest. If you’re lucky you’ll spot the Peppermint Stick insect on the pandanus palms, or the Daintree’s endangered and giant flightless bird, the cassowary.
OPTIONS: you can also choose one of three adventures: horse riding, sea kayaking or riding a jungle zip line. A morning of horse riding is perfect for absolute beginner riders through to the more experienced rider. Trails meander through scenic bushland and rainforest, crossing streams and out onto the spectacular Cape Tribulation Beach. You can canter down the beach--the wind in your hair--to complete your tropical paradise dreams.
Alternatively, you can take to the water with a sea kayaking guide and follow him to his secret places while looking for sea eagles, stingrays, dolphins, dugongs and the occasional migrating whale.
Or you can experience the art of "jungle surfing": an exhilarating zip line ride among the tree tops. By clipping into a series of steel cables arranged in the trees, you can fly across the rainforest canopy and get a bird's eye view of the world. At the highest point you fly over 22 metres above the valley (options are extra cost).
You return to Cairns this evening, and you can continue your adventures in Cairns or on to another destination in Australia.
- Airport Meet & Greet by a Small World Journeys staff member
- Transfers to/from Cairns International Airport
- All activities as described in the itinerary
- All transportation to activities
- 2 nights central Cairns boutique hotel (standard room with ensuite)
- 1 night Daintree rainforest lodge (cabin with ensuite)
- All breakfasts
- 2 lunches
- Mask, fins, and snorkel hire on reef trip
- 101 Plants of the Wet Tropics field guide
- 101 Animals of the Wet Tropics field guide
- Emergency local support 24 hours a day
- National Park taxes
- Comprehensive travel notes, maps, background and logistical information
- 5 metres square of Daintree rainforest adopted in your name by Rainforest Rescue
- Climate Care™ carbon-offsetting for a carbon-neutral trip
What's not Included:
- Airfare to Cairns and travel insurance
- 1 lunch and 3 dinners
- Optional koala photo
- Optional SCUBA Diving
- Optional Cape Tribulation jungle zip line ($90), horse ride ($109) or sea kayaking ($79)
- Personal expenses (phone, internet, laundry, etc.)
NOTE ON SCUBA DIVING: In order to participate in SCUBA diving, you will be required to fill out a medical form. It is important to note that Australian diving standards are some of the most rigorous in the world, and certain medical conditions will require a medical exam by a certified Australian dive doctor even if you are ALREADY certified. Although dive medical exams (at your cost, approximately $60 AUD) are available at a 24-hour clinic in Cairns, you need to know before the dive trip that you need this medical exam. Some of the medical conditions that may disqualify you from diving or will require a medical exam are, but not limited to, the following: Diabetes, Asthma, Migraine Headaches, Previous Head Injuries. We will email you a medical form on request if you are interested in diving.
Other Post-Trip Optional Add-Ons:
Small Group Aboriginal Culture Adventure: the Kuku Yalanji are the last rainforest tribal people to have retained their own language and customs – learn from an indigenous guide who will show you how to catch food the traditional way, cook up what you've caught, and share in an aboriginal art experience with an indigenous artist-in-residence. $209 AUD adult and $189 child (to 14 yrs.) and includes transport from your hotel.
Small Group Whitewater Rafting the Tully River: A full day paddling Class III-IV rapids through UNESCO World-Heritage rainforest. No experience necessary. Minimum age 13 years. $195 AUD which includes the river levy of $30 and transport from your hotel.
Other Destinations in Australia, Pre or Post Trip:
Once I arrive at the Cairns airport - what next?
We will arrange a transfer from the airport to your hotel. Details will be provided in your final itinerary.
What is the weather like in Cairns?
Cairns has a tropical climate, and outdoor activities can be enjoyed year-round. In our summer (December-February), the weather is at its warmest and wettest. 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 should I bring with me?
We will provide you with a suggested packing list in your Confirmation Packet.
What about sharks or jellyfish?
The ocean is home to sharks, but the ones you may encounter at the Great Barrier Reef are small and pose little threat to swimmers. In fact, divers and snorkelers often consider themselves lucky to spot one of these shy, magnificent creatures. Australia's famed Great White sharks prefer the cold waters of the southern coast, and therefore are not found at the Great Barrier Reef.
Box jellyfish, irukandji and other jellyfish, collectively known as "stingers" breed along the coast in estuaries and are not commonly found at The Great Barrier Reef. Therefore, they do not pose a major threat to snorkelers or divers at the reef. However, as a precaution you can use a full body lycra suit from the reef boat (provided free) so that you may still enjoy snorkeling and/or diving. Stingers are only a consideration between November and April/May.
Do I need to bring my own snorkelling or dive equipment?
You may bring your own equipment if you wish; however mask, fins and snorkel are provided on the Great Barrier Reef trip for snorkelers and all dive equipment is included in the diver package.
How do I 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or call + 61 0433 324 455 or toll free within Australia 1 300 640 821.
In the US, we recommend:
Sandra Marron at Millennium Travel California. Contact Sandra at
email@example.com or call toll free at 1-888-700- 2182.
Do I need a visa to visit 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.
Why should I 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 mobs of people will be on the morning of the eclipse (hint: we’re not going there.)
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 GUESTS
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, a cloth carry bag, a regional field guide, and a 5 square metre of Daintree rainforest adopted in your name, plus a certificate detailing where your rainforest square is located. Plus you get an unforgettable trip too.
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