Monday, August 23, 2010

Daintree River

At 5:45 A.M. there is a knock on our cabin door. I quickly plug in the hot water pot to mix our instant coffee and set the table with cereal bowls and pour orange juice before waking John. We eat our uninspired breakfast sleepily and are in the car at 6:15 to drive to the jetty. It is a gray and drizzly morning, the weather less than promising for our nature river adventure. There are several families waiting at the jetty and an Asian family of 5 departs with another naturalist before us. I have read many reviews before choosing Chris for our river guide and one other family of 4 is booked on our small tour. I surmise that Chris' enthusiasm is to make up for the poor weather and ultimately for the lack of crocodiles. He supplies us with suburb binoculars and points out many birds which are of extreme interest to the other family. John and I are more into reptiles, and I do my best to show enthusiasm over the many king fishers and water birds that are out foraging in this grey dawn.

John and I have glided quietly on many jungle rivers in early light and today's excursion is not rating high on the list but I am genuinely excited to spot several frog mouth owls, huddled together and looking more like dead wood than birds. John looses interest early on, and I glance over to see his eyes drooping and nudge him back into consciousness. It rains lightly and we pull our waterproof jackets closer. There is a break in the weather around the next bend in the river and then more rain. The micro climate is interesting. Sadly, we see no river crocodiles, and have had more than our fill of birds. We understand that we have gambled with the weather and that the crocodiles will not show themselves before the sun. Chris has been a knowledgeable guide and we are not dissatisfied, only slightly disappointed. We pay our $55 apiece and begin our drive up to Cape Tribulation.