In the morning, we finally met our Contiki tour guide and the rest of the traveling group for the rainforest portion of the trip. The group traveling to Cape Tribulation consisted of 20 people; later, when we returned to Cairns, we picked up an additional 30 people for the rest of the journey.
As we made our way to Cape Tribulation, we took a quick stop at Port Douglas, which located 67km (41 miles) north of Cairns. Port Douglas is an uber exclusive luxury resort town, apparently former President Bill Clinton vacationed there often. That is why the budget Contiki crew only made a 1 hour pit stop here. We strolled down the Four Mile Beach (yes that is what it is called) and cautiously stayed away from the water. It is jellyfish season in northern Australia from October to June, so every time we went into the water, stinger suits were a necessity.
We continued our journey north along the Coral Sea to Mossman National Park, which is located in the southern part of the Daintree National Park (80km north of Cairns) – a UNESCO World Heritage site. We went to explore the tropical rainforest and took a dip in crystal clear waters of a Mossman Gorge swimming-hole.
We then pushed further into Daintree National Park to our lodgings for the next two nights: Cape Tribulation Resort and Spa. We relaxed around the pool and enjoyed a nice dinner at the resort. For dessert: ant butts! There were green tree ants (type of Weaver Ant) crawling on all the trees around the resort that apparently had a lemony zesty taste when you licked their butts… Some daring experimenters even said it caused a numbing sensation on their tongue. I did not attempt to try. Apparently, locals oftentimes eat the ants as a tasty snack, squeeze them into water as a sweetener, and sometimes for medicinal purposes.
The next day, we took a walk through the lush Daintree rainforest, which is home to over 3,500 vascular plant species, including the famous strangler fig and mangrove swamps. Daintree is unique because it is home to several plant species that have existed for millions of years. We played around in Emmagen Creek, and the more adventurous of us (aka willing to lose their swimsuit) then partook in cliff jumping.
After some initial difficulties (aka our bus breaking down), we finally made it back to the resort. We chilled out on the beach until dinner time, during which we were served kangaroo steaks! It just tasted like a tougher version of beef…I felt a bit guilty later when I was petting all the kangaroos at the zoo… but it was delicious…