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OFF THE BEATEN TRACK-Part 3: Nature at its best at Daintree Rainforest

To reach our next destination in Daintree, located in the north east coast of Queensland, a destination that could only be best termed as a tropical paradise, we had to fly into Cairns and drive an hour and a half through the picturesque coastline of Port Douglas. It was slowly starting to get dark and we couldn’t see much but hear we did, in plenty, making it certain that we had finally arrived in what was the world’s oldest surviving rainforest. Be it eerie screeches of the spotted catbird, fluttering noises of the Victoria’s rifle bird, a species only found here to the croaking of the white lipped tree frogs and the gurgling sounds of the Daintree River close by, I could tell that this forest had only started to come alive in the darkness of the night.

One of the major highlights of our trip was the place we had chosen to spent the next two nights. A quaint yet luxurious eco lodge; each of its rooms strategically positioned on top of stilts to capture the beauty of the dense canopy surrounding us. Imagine witnessing the sight of over hundred butterflies flittering to life in the early hours of the morning (almost 2/3rds of Australia’s butterfly species are found here) or simply marveling at the awe-inspiring King Fern, Australia’s largest fern with fronds extending up to 5m long, all while sipping a hot cappuccino in the comfort of your tree-top verandah?

Following our customized made-to-order breakfast, it was time to explore what more this nature paradise had to offer. And if we had assumed that we had seen and absorbed the beauty of Daintree all by sitting in our aerial accommodation, we were instantly proven wrong as we stepped out of the lodge and made way to start our morning cruise across the Daintree River.
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Now what can I say about the beauty that had started to unfold in front of us. Except the cliched yet honest line, ‘If there was a heaven then this must be it! And that this was probably the way God intended Earth to be. Crystal waters so clear that if you took clicked an image, you would probably not be able to tell if it was the blue skies you were looking at or simply its reflection in the cool waters. Lush rainforest and mangroves surrounded the Daintree River, which is one of the longest rivers on the Australian East Coast (extending upto 140 kms). Here you can see pre-historic crocodiles, view innumerable species of birds like the Macleay”s honeyeater, comb-crested Jacana and the Forest Kingfisher amongst many others or simply imbibe the true beauty of this wet tropics. If you are feeling even more adventurous, you can also join one of the fishing boats and try you luck at catching the famous Baramundi, Australia is so famous for.
Having no such desires yet unsatiated with what this magnificent forest had to offer, we chose to head out to the next highly recommended attractions in Daintree, the Cassowary Falls. Located in a private farmland, you need to rent a 4 wheel drive and pay a fee at a local convenience store to reach this scenic location and the drive itself through the bumpy rugged mushy pathway is enough to excite the adrenaline junkie in you, not to forget the grand finale, which is the view of the magnificent waterfall. Here it’s one of the few spots in Daintree where it’s safe to jump in though watch out for the humongous fish, eels and turtles that might want to get a little more cosy than desired.

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