Cape Tribulation Rainforest Walk

Cape Tribulation Overnight Trip

Where The Rainforest Meets The Reef

Next on our Northern Queensland Adventure was a Cape Tribulation Overnight Trip to the oldest continually surviving tropical rainforest in the world – The Daintree Rainforest.

This tour with Active Tropics took us from Cairns to Cape Tribulation with an overnight stay at Ferntree Rainforest Lodge, right in the heart of the rainforest. Our favourite part? No phone service for nearly 36 hours! Bliss!

Whitsundays, Reef and Rainforest - Part 2

After our luxury stay at Paradise Cove resort, spending the night on the overnight Greyhound bus to get us up to Cairns was a bit of a shock to the system.

If you can, always try to do your long haul bus journeys overnight so that you don’t waste any of your precious traveling time! Our bus journey was made slightly better by bringing a good book, a travel pillow and a sleeping tablet.

We arrived bright and early at Cairns bus station at 5.30am and although I managed a good 8 hours of sleep on the bus, I still wouldn’t recommend heading straight on to a tour the same morning you arrive. Nethertheless, we powered ahead, excited to see the oldest tropical rainforest system in the world – The Daintree Rainforest.

The 95 km (60 mile) Daintree region starts at Mossman Gorge, an hour’s drive north of Cairns, continues past Daintree Village, across the Daintree River, through the rainforest of Daintree National Park to Cape Tribulation and along the Bloomfield Track towards Cooktown.

I have visited Cairns before but never made it to Cape Tribulation, heading instead to the lovely little town of Mission Beach in the other direction. Laura however, hadn’t visited Cairns before and was surprised to see how big the city is!

There are plenty of restaurants and shops and a lively nightlife scene if you know where to look. We found there to be a mixed bag of visitors to the city – lots of backpackers starting or finishing their East Coast trip, as well as some families and retirees visiting the area specifically to experience the Great Barrier Reef.

Whitsundays, Reef and Rainforest - Part 2
Mossman Gorge

The lovely Chris, from Active Tropics, picked us up in a mini-bus and we drove through Cairns to pick up the rest of our tour-mates from their accommodation. One recommendation we have for ALL travellers – don’t be late for your tour departure/pick up! Even if your tour guide is nice enough to wait for you, it’ll delay the rest of the day’s itinerary and doesn’t get you off to a great start with the guide or others travelling.

Chris gave us a brief introduction of the day’s activities while we made the picturesque journey North to our first stop – Mossman Gorge. On arrival we had the opportunity to purchase snacks from the onsite Mayi Café – we ordered toasties and much-needed coffee. Our group was invited into the rainforest to participate in a “Welcome to Country” and Smoke Ceremony conducted by the local Indigenous people, known as Kuku Yalanji.

This was a fascinating and informative presentation about the weapons, customs and culture of the local Bama (Rainforest) people. The Smoke Ceremony is to cleanse you of evil spirits was followed by a soap & ochre body paint making demonstration. We thanked the local guide and boarded the shuttle bus to the base of the Gorge walking trails.

Mossman Gorge was carved out by the mountain waters of the Mossman River, winding through large granite boulders, bordered by lush green rainforest. We headed to Rex Creek Bridge, a suspension bridge (great for Instagram pics) where you can watch the water cascading over rocks below and spot fish and turtles!

From here we made our way back down the trail to the famous Mossman Gorge swimming hole. You can swim at Mossman Gorge and though the water was refreshingly chilly we couldn’t resist those crystal clear waters!

Once everyone was finished swimming and had changed back into some dry clothes, we hopped back on the minibus to head to the Daintree River cruise Centre for our 45 minute Wildlife Cruise.

The Daintree area is one of the most densely populated mangrove estuaries in the world and home to Estuarine crocodiles, birds, frogs, snakes, butterflies, lizards, goannas, and insects.

We were lucky enough to see (and get up close to) 3 crocodiles including a 5 metre, 60 year old croc named Scarface who is known as the king of the Daintree River!

After the cruise was over it was back to the bus to make our way to our overnight accommodation. Just when we thought we’d had our fill of native wildlife for the day, our eagle-eyed driver alerted us to our first Cassowary spotting, along the side of the road!

Daintree Wildlife Cruise
Daintree Rainforest Cape Tribulation

We soon arrived at our accommodation, the Ferntree Rainforest Lodge. Our driver explained when our pick up would be the next day, and that there was a restaurant onsite or a good spot down the road for breakfast. We decided to drop off our bags, freshen up and go exploring.

When you purchase the overnight option with Active Tropics you can choose from several different accommodation options from dorms to deluxe ensuited rooms, including Cape Trib Beach House and PK’s Jungle Village.

The overnight tour includes all of the activities of the Active Tropics day tour plus one night of accommodation.

This gives you extra time to explore Cape Tribulation, with lots of optional extra activities to fill your time, including jungle surfing, horse riding, guided night walk, sea kayaking or even a half day reef trip. Ask us how to book these add-ons!

We spent the late afternoon walking along the beach before heading back to Ferntree Rainforest Lodge to get ready for dinner. It was pizza night at the restaurant and they even had some happy hour drinks specials.

We played a game of pool (we still weren’t getting any better, despite playing nearly every day for the past few weeks) and joined some of our tour-mates for dinner.

Our dorm room was basic but clean and was all we needed for a night of rest before exploring more of the tropical rainforest the next day. It’s worth noting that this place really is ‘off grid’ as it’s in the heart of the rainforest.

You’ll have to pay for WiFi and walk a paved path through the rainforest to get from your room to the restaurant or reception. We had no problem with this at all, but we understand that some travellers prefer more ‘flashpacker’ style accommodation.

The next morning, we checked out, left our bags at the reception storage room and then headed to Turtle Rock Café for a late breakfast.

There’s also a small local grocery store nearby which we stopped by for some snacks and supplies.

Our tour wasn’t departing for another couple of hours, so we went for a walk among the trees to grab some Indiana Jones style explorer pics and videos.

We joined the rest of our overnight tour group, as well as the Active Tropics Day Tour group, to head for the Dubuji boardwalk and Myall Beach.

The Dubuji (meaning ‘place of spirits’) boardwalk travels through lowland rainforest swamps filled with different species of mangroves.

The botanical walking track is around 1.2km so is an easy walk to do on your own, but you’ll learn so much more if you are with a guide.

We learned a great deal about all of the different plants including ferns, mangroves and fan palms, and what they would have been used for by the Traditional owners of the land – the Eastern Kuku Yalanji people.

We kept an eye out for crocodiles and cassowaries but didn’t come across any – though we did find a teeny tiny peppermint stick insect!

The walk ends at the picturesque Myall Beach where you’ll see the meeting point of two UNESCO-listed wonders – the Great Barrier Reef and Daintree Rainforest.

We were the only people on the beach the entire time we were there, spotting little sand crabs and taking turns on the rope swing.

Myall Beach Cape Tribulation
Floravilla Cape Tribulation

Our next stop was to the Floravilla Ice Cream Factory – which has 26 flavours of locally made ice-cream, but this isn’t just any ice cream! This ice cream is lovingly made using local ingredients – most of the fruit used is grown on organic farms in the Daintree. These farms are nurtured by the rich volcanic soils and fresh natural air of the rainforest, the flavour of the ice cream reflects the clean, green environment and you can taste the difference!

Our final stop before heading back to Cairns was Mount Alexandra Lookout – quite a steep and winding drive to reach, but a highlight along the Great Barrier Reef Drive. On a good day you can see landmarks like Snapper Island, Low Isles, Port Douglas, Black Rock, Cape Kimberley and Shipwreck Bay. Sadly, it was not a ‘good day’ in the rainforest and with blustery winds and grey skies, we could barely see anything but it was worth the visit nonetheless!

On our way back to Cairns, we passed through and briefly stopped at the beachside village of Port Douglas.

If you are self-driving your way along the East Coast this is an absolute MUST VISIT spot. It’s small, so there are only a handful of hostels around and some more luxurious hotels – but it’s worth staying for a night to chill out and enjoy the relaxed fancy atmosphere.

We arrived back into Cairns at around 7.30pm. Our tour guide gave the group a few recommendations for dinner including the Night Markets, but we decided to have a quiet night in with a little picnic in our hostel room.

Usually we’d have joined in the activities downstairs at the Gilligans hostel bar but we had a Great Barrier Reef day trip booked the next day and wanted to be on top form! You can read more about our Great Barrier Reef Day Trip with Passions of Paradise here.

Port Douglas View

Chasing Waterfalls?

Although you can swim in the waters of Mossman, the Atherton Tablelands are home to the stunning Millaa Millaa falls and Josephine falls. So if you’re after that famous hair flick photo you’ll need a trip to the Atherton Tablelands.

Contact us to organise a trip to the Atherton Tablelands or for more info.

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Are you heading to Australia soon?

Check out our 3 day mini packs or longer guided tours, which visit all the top spots Down Under. Each pack includes 3 nights accommodation plus at least 2 top activities which are famous within the region.

You can also book a longer East Coast package or contact us to custom build your own!

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