I adored our day with Pete. He is a capital C Character. One part Crocodile Dundee, one part parish Vicar, and one part your favorite professor of Everything, Pete made me wish the day didn’t have to end. Truly, I wanted to invite him to come and have dinner and a pint with us, but Pablo reminded me that hanging out with us is the guy’s j.o.b. and he got off work at 5. He’s just the kind of tour guide who becomes your new BFF. Being a “people person” is a skill and one that is highly valued in the tourism industry, but few people can do it in a way that is so genuine and engaging you literally forget that you PAID for the service. Pete is the best of the rare breed.
Pablo found him on the internet among many who offer similar tours. Pete got our reservation prior to leaving the states because of his prompt and witty responses to all of Pablo’s inquiries. We knew he was going to be “our kind of guide” from his emails. We were not disappointed.
Pete will pick you up from your lodging (early pick up, 7 am) in his brand new, totally geared up range rover. Pete’s tours are private (your group can be no larger than 6 people) so there is a slight tariff for the privilege of not riding in a large van with 16 sweating tourists, but we have found that a private tour is well worth the added expense under some circumstances. A tour of the rain forest would definitely be one of those circumstances. Our first “desto” was a boat ride up the Daintree river. Because it was mating season, our crocs were otherwise engaged (presumably doing the nasty up some creek) and we didn’t get to see one, but our boat captain was a veritable font of crocodile information nevertheless. We reconnoitered with Pete at the end of the river tour and from there we drove deep into the rain forest.
On most of the standard “big” group tours I doubt that they venture very far into the forest on foot. Judging from the “path” (I use the word in the loosest possible connection to its meaning) we were on, we were the first human beings to do so. Along the way, Pete stopped every few feet to pick up and inspect every kind of insect and point out every kind of flora with a very colorful lecture. (He encouraged us to lick the green butts of some large ants saying, “they taste quite a bit like the Starburst candies”. Uh. No thanks, Pete.) His oration was centered around the improbably scenario wherein your plane crashes and you survive the crash but you are in the middle of an impenetrable rain forest without food or water. (Maybe just some teeny tiny bottles of airplane Hiram Walker.) We learned more than we could retain, but every single minute was highly entertaining nonetheless. We trekked deep into the forest to a kind of natural shrine formed by three enormous trees that reminded us of the sort in Cambodia (featured in the Lara Croft movie). Next, our tour took us down to the beach where Pete’s vast knowledge veered into oceanography and ocean related biology.
The most adventurous thing I did on the tour (besides promise to not freak out if a leach hopped a ride) was to taste some “happy flowers” (mushroom taste) which are known to be eaten in quantities by the local “hippies”. (Yes, they are still around these parts, like vestiges of the ‘60s replete with dreads and tie dyed clothing, though I suppose the political aspirations have changed some. It seems more a lifestyle choice and fashion statement to these “hippies”, although they are the foundation of the artsy fartsy crowd up in Kuranda – a different tour for a different day.)
After our walk on the beach Pete pulled out a delightful boxed lunch reminiscent of an African walking Safari lunch sans booze. (Why do the Africans think Americans drink so much?) A few more sites to visit and then we called it a day. Pete returned us to our B&B just in time for “sundowners”. (That’s why! Duh!)
If you want an upgrade from the usual guided tour, and you don’t mind the small premium, do yourself a favor. Call or email Pete in Port Douglas. An experience you won’t soon forget.
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