• The perfect intro to Australian aborginal culture and the rainforest
• Travel by 4WD with the same group of guests and guide for three days
• Visit sacred waterfalls, rock art and a remote indigenous community
• Discover historic Cooktown and UNESCO World-Heritage Daintree rainforest
• Encounter Kuku Yalanji and Nugal-warra aboriginal people and their culture
Overview - 5 Days / 4 Nights
Forget the mainstream tourist trail - this small group guided adventure is designed to take you to the special places the local aboriginal people call home.
For three days you travel with a small group into the depths of the UNESCO World Heritage Daintree rainforest -- with some sections only accessible by 4WD. You will find nature is at its most bountiful here, patchwork of greens and emeralds, dotted with giant fan palms and wildlife found nowhere else on the planet.
Indigenous culture is intimately woven into these coastal places, and you'll have the local Kuku Yalanji whispering some of their secrets to you. A highlight is Nugal-warra aboriginal elder Willie Gordon, who offers an enchanting morning traversing sandstone escarpments to six different rock art sites, including the Rainbow Serpent Cave.
Your local guide will make your journey north come alive with tales of peculiar wildlife, rough-and-tumble local characters, and the colourful history that make this area so special. Authentic interactions with aboriginal people also allow you to witness how indigenous traditions are integrated into the modern world.
Unique accommodation, delicious meals and a small group of 14 maximum make for an enjoyable trip, while a true discovery of both the tropical Daintree rainforest and authentic aboriginal culture ensure you experience the real Australia.
Day 1: Arrival and Transfer
Welcome to the tropics! You are greeted by a friendly Small World Journeys staff member when you step off the plane, who will give you your detailed itinerary and an orientation to Cairns. You are then transferred from the Cairns airport 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.
Accommodation: Tropical Heritage Cairns
Day 2: Aboriginal-Guided Hunting and Tracking, Daintree Rainforest
Perhaps the best way to learn about aboriginal culture, first you walk with two aboriginal brothers of the Kuku Yalanji tribe along the coast they’ve called home for thousands of years. Their specialty is helping you find mud crabs, mussels, and other “bush tucker” (food) among the mangroves. You learn how to throw spears and try your hand at catching food the traditional way. 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. Later you are invited to your indigenous guide’s home where you meet the family, hear tales of the native “Dreamtime” and feast on what you’ve caught.
Then it’s off to a picnic lunch and a private waterfall that is reached by a short twisty path through the jungle. A natural swimming hole beneath the falls is a perfect cool-off spot.
Later in the day you will ferry across the Daintree river and 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. You’ll take a croc-spotting river cruise on the Daintree River where you can look for these magnificent reptiles in the wild and then continue on to your rainforest lodge.
Your Daintree lodge boasts private swimming holes, day spa, and a superb secluded location in the rainforest. Cabins have ensuites, private balcony, coffee and tea making facilities, bar fridge, air-conditioning and TV/DVD. Dinner is spent getting to know your fellow travellers and enjoying this tranquil rainforest setting. Your Mediterranean-style dinner is chef-prepared using the finest local ingredients and served overlooking the magical Cooper Creek.
Accommodation: Heritage Lodge Daintree
Included: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Day 3: The Bloomfield Track, Aboriginal Community & Sacred Falls
In the early morning the animals stir, the Daintree 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.
With your guide and group you continue onto what is known as the last frontier of North Queensland. You travel the renown Bloomfield Track--once a well-worn path used by the Kuku Yalanji aboriginal people--which allows you to glimpse the heart of this UNESCO-World Heritage Listed area (the only way through is by 4WD!) This overland safari, with its emerald green mountain ranges, rugged river crossings (look for crocodiles!) and jungle-draped valleys evokes a feeling of true adventure.
At track’s end lies the aboriginal community of Wujal Wujal, meaning “many falls”. From this settlement--thought to have existed for thousands of years--you are escorted by the traditional aboriginal owners to a set of sacred waterfalls.
Lunch is at the Lion’s Den Hotel, one of North Queensland’s oldest- running bush pubs, established in 1875. It is here you’re likely to meet some local characters, hear some yarns, and experience the “real” Australia. Afterwards you visit the mysterious Black Mountains, which are steeped in aboriginal legends, before arriving in Cooktown. Cooktown is Australia’s first non-aboriginal settlement, having been established by Captain Cook and his crew in 1770. Its “rough and ready” outback character makes you feel like you’ve stumbled across a secret town lost in time. From Grassy Hill enjoy 360 degree panoramic views of the town, the Endeavour River and the Coral Sea.
Tonight settle into your hotel enjoy dinner with your group at Shadows of Mt Cook. Your boasts a beautiful free form swimming pool set amidst award-winning landscaped tropical gardens.
Accommodation: Sovereign Resort Cooktown
Included: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner
Day 4: Aboriginal Rock Art with Nugal-Warra Elder & Cooktown
Today is a special day out with an Nugal-warra elder, Willie Gordon, for a morning of aboriginal culture and rock art. Willie has a great smile, an infectious laugh and is a celebrated community story-keeper. He will take you through a dramatic landscape to six rock art sites--including an ancestral birth cave and the Reconciliation Cave--on his traditional country outside Hope Vale Aboriginal Community. Here he explains the significance of the paintings and the stories behind the art, giving his guests a unique insight into Aboriginal philosophy and spirituality. And as you walk the ancient tracks used by the Nugal people for centuries, Willie shares some of his vast knowledge of the land you're in: its bush tucker and medicines, creatures which forecast the weather, flowers which give messages, leaves which make soap, how to interpret snake tracks or give a little lizard a drink. You are guaranteed to be enchanted.
Upon return, you have a little time to enjoy Cooktown: visit the world-class Captain Cook Museum or stroll along the shores of the Endeavour River. This afternoon you depart Cooktown via the inland road, travelling through a diverse landscape of cattle stations and the Palmer River Gold mine region, the outback of Far North Queensland. You return to Cairns tonight, and you can opt for a celebratory dinner with your fellow travellers.
Accommodation: Tropical Heritage Cairns
Included: Breakfast and Lunch
Day 5: Trip Conclusion or Extension
Eventually all good things must come to an end. After breakfast today you are transferred back to the airport for your flight back home or you can extend your trip with some optional activities listed on inclusions tab.
- 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
- 2 nights central Cairns budget accommodation (single occupancy)**
- 1 night rainforest lodge (single occupancy)**
- 1 night Cooktown hotel (single occupancy)**
- 4 breakfasts
- 3 lunches
- 2 dinners
- 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
** Discount of $285 per person applies for double occupancy
What's not Included:
- Airfare to Cairns and travel insurance
- 2 dinners
- Personal expenses (phone, souvenirs, laundry, etc.)
If you prefer a little more luxury...
You can upgrade to 4-star accommodation in Cairns for an additional $130 AUD per person.
Other Post-Trip Optional Add-Ons:
Outer Great Barrier Reef Day Trip: Take a sailing catamaran to two locations on the outer reef and discover an underwater universe at this UNESCO World-Heritage site. One of the great wonders of the world and a can't miss. Unlimited snorkelling and lunch included. Intro and certified SCUBA diving available at an extra cost. $139 AUD per person, plus $10 pay on board levy.
Skyrail, Kuranda Village and Historic Train: Soar above the rainforest canopy on the Skyrail eco-attraction, explore the markets in Kuranda mountain village, and wind down through Barron River Gorge on a historic train. $111 AUD per person.
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 pay-on-board levy of $30 and transport from your hotel.
Other Destinations in Australia, Pre or Post Trip:
Is this a holiday for singles?
This holiday is appropriate for people travelling solo, or with a partner or friend.
Even though not being specifically for SINGLES, this trip maximises opportunities for
solo travellers to meet other people. The central Cairns-based accommodation offers
a single room for your privacy, but a social atmosphere with movie nights, pool tables,
tropical swimming pool and a small bar. You will be in your small group whilst staying
at The Daintree Rainforest Lodge and Cooktown hotel as well.
Once I arrive at the Cairns airport - what next?
One of our friendly staff will meet you in Baggage Claim and will have a sign with your name on it. They will they have a detailed itinerary description for you, along with extras such as a town map, recommended restaurants for your first and last night, water bottle, animal ID book and cloth shopping bag.
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 do I pack?
We will provide you with a suggested packing list in your Confirmation Packet. Please bring lightweight clothes for the tropics, sunscreen, hat, swim suit and SCUBA certification card (if applicable).
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 Sydney-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 the swimming holes where locals go.
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, and waterproof coral and fish tiles for you to keep so you know what you're looking at under water! 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