Solar Whisper cruise on the Daintree River
What a privilege to be invited by the owner of Solar Whisper, David White, on a wildlife spotting trip on the Daintree River.
Before we even left Solar Whisper's office, on the edge of the Daintee River, we were spotting wildlife. This cute little orphaned fruit bat was being hand fed, with the aim of being released back into the wild.
Fruit bat being hand fed
As we boarded the boat, Betty had a surprise for the other guests, handing out samples of her famous Floravilla Bio-dynamic, organic icecream. The guests enjoyed this treat as we set forth.
Betty Hinton, David White and guests enjoying Floravilla Icecream
Solar Whisper Guests enjoying a Floravilla Icecream
The slight hum from the electric motor was a welcome change from the typical outboard motor noise, and although not completely silent, Solar Whisper is an appropriate name for this boat.
Within one hundred metres, we had spotted our first croc. A cute, juvenile, who David described as a "2016 model". Unfortunately for him, David explained, survival rates for baby crocodiles are pretty low, and it takes a few years before they name them.
Heading further upstream, we entered the channel between Pig Island and the western bank, to be greeted by "Scar Face". He is the dominant croc in this section of river, and shows battle scars and missing teeth from his fights to maintain his "Top Croc" position.
The dominant male, Scar Face, has battle scars from his fight to the top
Given the warm water temperatures in late November, we were expecting not to see a lot of crocodiles. In the warmer weather, crocodile spotting is more difficult, as they are able to stay hidden for longer, not needing to sun themselves. Low tide is the best time to go on a croc tour as there is less water and more mud banks.
Even at this time of year, it turned out David was able to bring us close to half a dozen crocs, and even this juvenile, feeding on small fish and prawns in the shallows.
Juvenile Crocodile feeding in shallows on the Daintree River
"Croc Cam" is another unique feature of solar whisper, with a screen at the front of the boat that allows David to zoom in on wildlife alongside the boat. It works as a great addition to his expert commentary.
Croc Cam lets guest get even closer to the wildlife, like a communal pair of binoculars
Although crocodiles are usually considered the main attraction of a tour on the Daintree River, there is so much more to see. The scenery is breathtaking, with views of the surrounding Daintree Rainforest (the oldest surviving rainforest in the world) and complex mangrove ecosystems. The mist shrouded mountains provide an impressive backdrop to the river.
Thornton Peak in the background is the 3rd highest mountain in Queensland
Birdlife abounds, with egrets, sunbirds, kingfishers, spoonbills, cormorants, plovers and hundreds of other species. Snakes can often be seen in the trees overhanging the river, and the unique flora a can be observed up close.
A sunbird nest can be seen amongst the epiphytic ferns on this overhanging tree
Plenty of birdlife can be spotted on the cruise
Golden orchid growing high in the trees
Ylang Ylang trees provide a heady scent
On the way back, we spotted another juvenile croc, feeding in the shallows on the river bank.
Remember to have a look at the mud banks under the jetty on your way out as well. We spotted these Fiddler Crabs on the way up the ramp
Thanks again to David for such an informative and entertaining trip on the Daintree River.
To find out more about Solar Whisper's tours, visit www.solarwhisper.com