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FNQ Nature Tours

Far North Queensland: 3 day Birding Tour

Duration: 3 days/ 2 nights (optional day extension)

Type: Private Charter.

Departs: On Request

Interests: Birds.

The Wet Tropics stretch from Townsville to Cooktown, encompassing approximately 9000sq. km of rainforest interspersed with farmland, rivers and tropical savannah, not to mention coastline and coral cays. Such an array of habitats explains the region’s high diversity of flora and fauna.

This World Heritage Listed area is the world's oldest continually surviving rainforest and where the world’s songbirds emerged. With more than 450 Avian Species recorded (more than half of Australia's total bird count), including 12 Endemics, it’s Australia’s twitching mecca; and you don’t have to venture far from Cairns to enjoy a rich bird watching experience in a variety of environments.

The region is famous being home to bowerbirds, kingfishers, riflebirds, fruit doves and the endangered Southern Cassowary.  The FNQ Nature Tours team along with local birding experts, bring the vast variety of birding hotspots in Far North Queensland to life with this exceptional multi-day birding experience.

About FNQ Nature Tours: After ten years of guiding nature and wildlife safaris in Northern Australia, James Boettcher established FNQ Nature Tours in 2015, with a firm belief that tourism is the key to the protection and conservation of this World Heritage area. The company offers tours designed for nature minded travellers desiring a personal, educational and interactive guided experience, whilst sharing the necessity of protecting the natural wonders and biodiversities of this world famous region.

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Itinerary

Tour day-by-day

  • Day 1: Daintree Rainforest

    Pre-tour night in Daintree Village (recommended): Our team will collect you and your crew from the Cairns Airport and begin travel to the Daintree Village, for overnight accommodation at Red Mill House.

    The birding adventure starts out with a river cruise with local birding expert and river guide, Murray Hunt. Dawn cruises provide the best conditions for those wishing to see the river at its most stunning, as well as the greatest chance to see some of the most sought-after birds of the river. Referred to in many ‘birding’ reference books, this famous cruise has been in operation for more than 20 years. Key target species include Great-billed Heron, Papuan Frogmouth, Little Kingfisher, Azure Kingfisher, Black Bittern, Saltwater Crocodile, Green Tree Snake, Water Dragon and butterflies.

    This is one of the best examples of a tropical river with a rainforest growing right to the water’s edge, which provides for some great birding. The river is most famous for the Great-billed Heron and Little Kingfisher. The heron, one of the world’s largest birds, was always a ‘phantom’ bird for birdwatchers.Twenty years ago, it was rarely seen. Once birding tours commenced on the river, exploring the small rainforest and mangrove creeks that ran from it, the bird was seen more regularly. Even now, however, it remains elusive and can melt into the shadows of the rainforest or mangroves right before your eyes.

    Following breakfast at local cafeĢ by the Daintree River and the opportunity to hear many bird calls in the nearby forest the we will head to Cape Tribulation. A trip to the Daintree is not complete without visiting the famous beach where the 'Rainforest meets the reef'. Several mangrove and rainforest walks are available to allow us the maximum opportunity to observe birds such as the iconic Southern Cassowary, Leaden flycatcher, Yellow-breasted Boatbill, Pied Monarch, Pale-yellow Robin and Little Shrike Thrush.

    The next stop is the Daintree Discovery Centre, which offers a wonderful and unique way of accessing the higher rainforest canopy via their Aerial Walkway.The Aerial Walkway allows unprecedented access to the mid-level rainforest and offers stunning views over McLean’s Creek. At an impressive 11m High,This Daintree Rainforest Skywalk is rated as one of the Top Ten Skywalks in the Country By Australian Geographic.

    Overnight stay at Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge (Dinner at Highlander Tavern)
    (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included)

  • Day 2: Julatten to Atherton

    Kingfisher Park Birdwatchers Lodge is an internationally renowned, privately owned, sanctuary which offers accommodation and guiding to bird-watchers and nature lovers. The Lodge is a 'Land for Wildlife' sanctuary with healthy populations of birds, mammals, reptiles and plants. Around 230 bird species have been recorded within a 1.5 km or 1 mile radius of the Lodge and its grounds, with all of the 13 Wet Tropics endemic birds found within a 15km travel distance. Some of the renowned seasonal endemics include the Blue-faced Parrot Finch and Buff-breasted Paradise Kingfisher (Dec-Feb).

    After a delicious lunch, we head to the Mitchell River Headwaters. The river’s waters ‘pulse’ annually with monsoonal rains, seasonally collecting water from across the local tropical rainforests in the highlands to the east; the wet sclerophyll forests in the central uplands; a variety of woodlands plus savannah in the western plains; annually flooding with freshwater, the tidal plains, wetlands, estuaries, and mangroves of the lower Mitchell and Coastal Plains.

    The magnitude of eco-tones in the region allows great birding opportunities. This includes wading birds, mangrove species, kingfishers and raptors. After exploring this area, we settle at the famous historical town of Yungaburra, another huge destination for observing the regions birdlife and enjoy dinner at Nick’s Restaurant by Peterson Creek.

    Accommodation at Crater Lakes Rainforest Cottages, (Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner Included)

     

  • Day 3: Atherton to Cairns

    Furthering our nature and birding interactions on the Tablelands, we meet with local naturalist Alan Gillanders. Alan’s a local Tablelander who grew up on Western Cape York Peninsula. His interest in natural history has been lifelong. Join Alan for the morning to enjoy some bird watching,Tree Kangaroo observation and other wildlife spotting around Malanda and the Tablelands.

    Local endemics include the Lesser Sooty Owl, Australian Fernwren, Atherton Scrubwren, Mountain Thornbill, Macleay’s Honeyeater, Bridled Honeyeater, Grey-headed Robin, Chowchilla, Bower’s Shrike-thrush, Pied Monarch, Victoria’s Riflebird, Tooth-billed Bowerbird and Golden Bowerbird.

    We enjoy a delicious lunch at Lake Barrine, a short drive from Yunaburra that takes us to the cool atmosphere of the Atherton Tablelands, where you will come across a beautiful, enchanting natural lake hidden in World Heritage Listed Rainforest. Lake Barrine is something special as it is actually a water filled crater left by a volcanic eruption approximately 10,000 years ago. 

    Our next stop is the famous Cathedral Fig Tree. This Strangler Fig is an 800 year old relic of the flora kingdom, where we will learn about the intricate life story of the giant fig while enjoying a chorus of calls. Over 120 birds can be found and heard in the area just a short walk from the car park. Tooth-billed bowerbirds, Eastern Whipbirds and Spotted Catbirds are quite regular here!

    Your guide will then drop you off in Cairns City, where we highly recommend spending the afternoon on the Cairns Esplanade. With over 250 birds sighted throughout a calendar year, you’re sure to tick off a few lifers before leaving this beautiful city.

    Optional Day Extension - Reef Pelagic with Seastar 

    Join Alan Gillanders for an optional extension reef day from 8am to 4pm. Seastar Cruises travels daily to Michaelmas Cay and Hastings Reef Daily catering for a small group of 35 passengers. Michaelmas Cay is a one of the best cays in North Queensland for Frigatebirds, Boobies,Terns and Noddies.

     

    Key Details

    Private Charter Pricing: from $3,080 per person (based on 2 adults, twin share accommodation for two nights, touring, meals).
    Private Group Size: Maximum of 7 guests
    Pick-up and Drop Off Point: Cairns/Northern Beaches/Port Douglas
    Pick-up and Drop-off Time: Cairns 7:30am/Northern beaches 08:00am/Port Douglas 8:30am (location dependent), Drop off approximately 5:00pm

    Responsible Tourism

    As part of our commitment to sustainability we have developed a Code Of Practice relating to our wildlife interactions which is available for your reference. Our river affiliates are using only solar powers vessels, clean, quiet and zero impact on the environment during wildlife cruises. 

    As our way of contributing to the local wildlife community, we are heavily involved with FNQ Wildlife Rescue. Our organisation attends rescues and is active in sharing stories that may help educate our guests on safe and helpful practises for supporting injured or orphaned wildlife. 

    FNQ Nature Tours

     


     

    Bookings & Enquiries

    The tour is not currently available to be booked online, as our team customises the itinerary according to your interests, accommodation preferences and transport/logistics into Cairns. Please contact our friendly team via the Enquire Now button below - there are some essential details to help us provide the best options for you. We will be in touch via your preferred contact method.

    Enquire Now

    Recent Testimonials

    "While visiting Australia I did five different tours and this one was by far the best. To say that James is a knowledgeable guide is to put it lightly. He is a legend. Our tour was packed full of information, and the sights we saw were top notch. I can't recommend it enough. If I'm ever in Cairns again, I will certainly be looking to take another tour with James." - Jake, Colorado

    "What can I say, other than if you're a lover of all things nature and have a love of photography, then DO THIS day tour with James. He has a wealth of knowledge and has such a passion for nature that makes the trip incredibly fun and educational. We all had such a wonderful time, and got to see so many amazing things (flora and fauna) that we'd have all missed out on, had it not been for James. Thank you for giving us one of the best days in FNQ yet! It's a day I will treasure forever." - Jessica, Sydney

    "James was a really terrific guide, bringing enthusiasm and knowledge that really enhanced our day. He clearly loves what he does, and that made for a great day for our group of five. We learned a lot, and had a truly fun and relaxing time. Doesn't get better than this!." - Dianne, New York City

    "If you want personal service from a passionate and professional guide then you must book James. I was travelling with two teenage boys and from the moment they stepped into his vehicle they had a smile on their faces and I knew I made the right decision booking him. He is like an encyclopaedia of animals and plants... Because of James expertise, we saw things others before us walked or drove past. Lizards, birds, crocodiles, plants - he knows them all and what an incredible photographer....I doubt you will find a better tour in the Daintree." - Nickle 27 - UK

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