Today was the first day with our Contiki group (well half of them at least). We all met downstairs at our hotel to wait for our coach to pick us up because we were heading to Cape Tribulation! Cape Tribulation is home to some of the oldest rainforest on the planet. And there literally is no electricity on the entire Cape. It’s not that bad because everyone lives off of generators and it makes the whole feel of the Cape that much more natural. You’re literally in the middle of the rainforest with the sand to the beach just feet away from you. We quickly checked in to the Beach House (our accommodation for the night), which is such a beautiful resort. Each room is set up like a cabin in the woods with a bar and recreation center inches from the water. My eyes were filled with awe, but before I could really explore, our adventure for the day was about to begin.
We were going Jungle Canopy Surfing! What’s that you ask? Well you pretty much get strapped on a flying fox zipline and fly through the trees in the rainforest. No big deal right? They have these tree platforms high up on the trees and we just flew from one tree to another while learning about the history of the rainforest. Apparently the Daintree rainforest is the oldest growing rainforest ever. There are trees and plants that over 60 million years old! The rainforest itself dates back to around 120-150 million years old. It’s so crazy to think about a species of plants that has not only survived that long, but remained the same over all these years. It really just puts things into perspective. There is so much out there that we never get to see on a daily basis and it’s been around for all of these years. Our guide, Jimmy, explained to us that scientists are still discovering certain plants and their medicinal uses. It’s not that these are new plants, quite the contrary, but that they just hadn’t been discovered by scientists yet…apparently the aborigines have been using these plants for years. Crazy, right?! Well not only is the history of the place crazy, but we also got to zipline upside down through the forest! SO AMAZING! I felt like a monkey just swinging from vine to vine taking in the scenery, sounds, and smells of this gorgeous place. Don’t believe me? Check back later for a video and see for yourself.
After surfing we returned to our beach house just as the sun was about to set. Obviously I wanted to check out the sunset on the beach- so Seena, Yonny and Manny (our friends from NY) and I made our walk through the forest toward the beach. The trees keep everything covered so I didn’t know how close the beach exactly was, but once the ground started getting sandy, I looked up and saw an opening with some light shining through. As we got closer the trees disappeared behind us and we were surrounded by the most beautiful beach I’ve ever seen. And believe it or not we were the only ones in sight! I immediately ran into the warm waters and watched the sun set behind the rainforest. The pictures won’t do it as much justice as it deserves, but it was one of the most incredible sights I’ve ever seen.
After the sun set we went to the bar and grill, had some delicious Barramundi, played pool and we may or may not have had absinthe ;)
It was a good night.
We woke up in the morning and my head was pounding. I think I might have had a little too much to drink, but I got up, got dressed and went on a beach walking tour with our Contiki group and my hangover was instantly cured. We walked around Cape Tribulation and then made our way to Port Douglas.
Port Douglas reminds me of Catalina island. It’s such a small and neat beach town. At this point we were starving so we found the first restaurant that had wifi (so American of us, I know). After a couple drinks and some fresh prawns I decided to take a stroll by the waters while Seena went shopping.
I walked out onto the rocks and watched the waves crash as I laid there and contemplated life. And by contemplate life I mean I was laying out trying to tan. The beauty is distracting here though. The trees are lush with leaves and twisted branches, the sand is soft and warm and the water is as blue as blue can be. After my tanning sesh it was time to head back onto the bus to go back to Cairns.
We got back to Cairns with just enough time to change back into our bathing suits and explore our hotels accommodations a bit :) Rydes Esplanade Hotel is right on the ocean front boardwalk just a couple blocks away from the night shops and pubs. Which just means that all of our delicious meals and drinks are getting burned off! Our pool is on the front of the hotel just slightly overlooking the boardwalk. It’s built in the shape of a maze and kind of like the Lazy River at Mandalay Bay, but better because it has a swim up bar! We obviously had to test out the bar so we grabbed our drinks and headed to the jacuzzi. Then all of the sudden it started pouring rain for about 2 minutes and instantly cleared up. Tropical rain? Don’t mind it at all!
We had to be ready for dinner by 7 so we quickly got ready and headed downstairs to meet with the WHOLE Contiki group. There’s about 45 people total on this Contiki and they are all such diverse people! There’s people who came alone, people who quit their jobs, who are on vacation (or Holiday as the Aussies call it), or who just plain decided they want see the world so they booked a trip with Contiki. Whatever their reason may be- they all have one thing in common. They REALLY like to party!
Despite the fact that we’ve up at the crack of dawn everyday- I knew I couldn’t miss out. We went to the Woolshed which is one of the most popular pubs in Cairns and drank the night away. It was college night so they had $2 jungle juices all night. It was funny because we went a little early and I was observing the decor of the place and noticed they had random signs reading “dancing on the tables is at your own risk”. I thought that was a pretty funny sign until about 10 o’clock hit and EVERYONE was dancing on the tables. It was a fun night and a really great experience to just party with new friends from all over the world!
‘Till tomorrow mates!
-Rita Manoukian, 97.1 AMP Radio/Los Angeles