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What is the Daintree Rainforest?

Updated Tue 31 Jan 2023

What Is The Daintree Rainforest?

The Daintree Rainforest is the oldest living rainforest on Earth, located in the northeast of Australia. Thriving for an estimated 135 million years, the biodiverse hotspot holds generations-old knowledge from the area's traditional custodians, the Kuku Yalanji First Nations people.

It is home to thousands of species of plants, animals, and over 12,000 species of insects. It's full of colossal, twisted trees, vibrant green ferns, and countless waterfalls. Highlights of the rainforest include Mossman Gorge and the remote headland of Cape Tribulation, but there are many more remote areas that are not commonly visited by tourists. 

The west is bordered by the MacDonnell Range while the east of the forest meets the edge of the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef. This is one of the only places in the world where two World Heritage Sites meet: the reef and the rainforest!

Two people with their hands in the air sitting in the Daintree Rainforest

Cape Tribulation

Cape Tribulation is one of the main tourist villages in the Daintree Rainforest. If you plan to visit this ancient expanse of dense natural beauty, you'll most likely stop in Cape Tribulation. Home to a rocky headland that juts out into the turquoise coral sea, here you can explore nature and get a taste of the incredible Daintree. 

Walk the Dubuji Boardwalk to learn about local mangroves and plants. Stroll on Cape Tribulation Beach or Myall Beach and admire the primal, untouched, coastal views. Hike Mount Sorrow for panoramic views of the greenery. Or join a local tour to go zip lining, night hiking, or ocean rafting.

There is one main street in Cape Tribulation with a few tourist lodges and shops. There is only one small store with basic amenities, so stock up on supplies before you visit! You can also visit Cape Tribulation on a day trip from Cairns, or on an overnight tour from Cairns

girls looking at rainforest

Wildlife In The Daintree Rainforest

The Daintree Rainforest is home to some incredibly unique and ancient creatures. The Daintree has over 430 recorded species of birds, including the famous cassowary, Australia's most well-known bird. Standing up to two metres tall, they have blue faces and a large brown bony horn on their heads. They are known to be extremely dangerous, especially when they are protecting their young! Cassowaries have large clawed feet that can gravely injure or harm other animals or even humans, so keep your distance!

Cassowaries are an endangered and protected species and are a beautiful sight to see in the wild. With a high population living in the Daintree, lucky visitors often see them while making their way through the rainforest! 

The Daintree Rainforest is also home to many of Australia's native reptiles, including snakes, frogs, lizards, and crocodiles. There are 15 species of gecko alone in the Daintree! The Lace Monitor, Australia's second-largest Goanna, can often be found lumbering around on the forest floor of the Daintree. Don't let their slow demeanour fool you, once they want to move, they can quickly get up a tree or run away at great speed. They feed on carrion, as well as eggs or small animals.

There are plenty of species of marsupials, rodents, and mammals that roam the forests, including the Flying Fox, the largest bat in Australia. While its ominous size looks terrifying, it only eats fruit and pollen and is a very docile animal.


Should I Visit The Daintree Rainforest?

Absolutely, the Daintree Rainforest is one of the most stunning areas of natural beauty in Australia. You can easily reach the Daintree from Cairns or Port Douglas, either by joining a tour or renting a car. You can go all the way up to Cape Tribulation without a 4WD, but you'll need a more hefty vehicle if you plan on venturing even further north. 

With rainforests, wetlands, mangroves, rivers, and waterfalls spanning over 12,000 square kilometers, the Daintree Rainforest is one of the most beautiful forests in Australia and the world!

girl looking at nature

Planning a visit to the ancient Daintree Rainforest during your Cairns getaway? Check out our day tours to Cape Tribulation!

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