I have posted a version of this incredibly long post in the Daintree and Cairns forums, so please don't waste time reading it again if you've seen it!
My partner and I have booked a 17-day trip to the area in August. I've already posted something in the Port Douglas forum (reallyhelpful, especially TravelPort!), and now I have a few more Daintree-centric questions.
My partner is recovering from a serious illness, and it has been a stressful time for both of us, so what we really want is a peaceful battery-recharge trip in one of the most beautiful places on the planet. We'll spend what we have to to get the most out of it, but money isn't generally plentiful, so anything we can save is a bonus. Although we're not super-fit or anything, we love medium to short bushwalks, being surrounded by forest, and waterfalls in particular. We're really keen to see as much of the Daintree as we can, at a relaxed pace, and preferably with crowds of others kept to a minimum. We'd love to see spectacular things, but the trip is more about experiencing things together and having memories of that than a full checklist of things we have seen.
We'll be spending three nights in Port Douglas (staying at the Pink Flamingo, which looks just wonderful); three nights in Cape Tribulation (haven't booked accom yet, but thinking of Rainforest Hideaway) and then 10 nights at the Daintree Valley Haven (good cooking facilities, and somewhere nice to hang when hubby is feeling exhausted, and somewhere secluded is all at a premium, this place looked like it would fit the bill). We've hired a car.
So far, the list of things to do I have put together is:
Boardwalks & beach walks at Cape Tribulation
Coopers Creek night walk
Coopers Creek day walk
Full day reef trip (From Port Douglas)
Port Douglas Sunday markets
Mossman Gorge - Kuku Yulangi & loop walks
Tranquility rainforest tour to Niau falls
Sunset Daintree river cruise (Dan Irby)
Sunrise/daytime river cruise (Dan Irby again, or someone else?)
Daintree village walk
Wonga beach walk
Atherton Tablelands - Milaa Milaa circuit, lakes and volcanic craters
Breakfast with the birds
We probably can't do all this - even with all our time, given we won't be doing 10-hour sightseeing days, and we will need some rest.
Questions (at last, the point!)
1. Given our priorities - seeing/relaxing in rainforest/some wildlife/some spectacular other stuff without huge crowds - what are the must-do things on this list? Is there anything we could just drop?
2. Any opinions on the dawn vs daytime cruise?
3. Which walks in Cape Trib will be most crowded? What is the best way to avoid the crowds (early mornings, late afternoons, should we call the venue and ask?). I would rather not be starting at 7am every day of our holiday, but maybe it is worth it to avoid tour buses? (just try to change our sleep patterns!) Will it be more or less crowded on the weekend to weekdays - or won't it make a difference?
4. Are there other places that should be on the list? I haven't listed the caves at Chillago, for example. It would be a full-day for us (on top of the Atherton Tablelands) but maybe it is worth it?
5. I've also considered whether we should splurge on a trip with Pete Bexendell. I had initially rejected a tour of the Daintree, because most of them package things we can do on our own, at our own pace. But it looks like Pete takes you to private rainforest, and that the info he has would make the rest of our exploration worthwhile?
6. Is this the most appriopriate accomodation?
Sorry for the longest post in history (if anyone made it this far!). Like everyone else, I guess, just trying to get as much out of our trip as we can.