When we booked with Off Road Adventure Safaris we did not realise what we were letting ourselves in for. We read the blurb about being different. seeing places that others would not. All the usual marketing stuff. Our main reason for choosing Off Road Adventure Safaris was the small group size. With a maximum of eight passengers it suited our style of travel. While we have travelled with larger, well known companies and had a great time twenty people is not a small group.
Well this tour is different and the difference is Mark and his partner in crime, Jody. While we did not meet Jody personally the work that she does behind the scenes is evidenced in the smooth running of the tour and her professionalism in organising our booking was of the highest standard.
From the outset this tour was outstanding. At the end of Day 1 we thought that it could not get better but each day Mark would throw in some new twist and have us all in awe of this incredible destination. His mantra is that 'Each day is about the journey and not the destination' and he lived up to that. No impromptu stop to meet a particular interest was a problem and we all benefited from this approach.
His enthusiasm for the Cape, its people and the environment is contagious. His commitment to the guests, both as a group and as individuals is commendable and a big part of what made our journey so special.
Jody and Mark’s choice of accommodation is outstanding. Portland Roads was incredible and the addition of Melanie Camp for 2017 was a wise choice not just for its location but for the people that run the camp. I don’t think that any of us will ever forget sitting around the fire and listening to Mary (supposedly the camp cook but realistically a host extraordinaire) tell stories of growing up on the station.
There is so much more we could write about our time on Cape York but we would give away all Mark’s secret inclusions if we did. We can highly recommend this product to anyone considering a visit to Cape York, you will not be disappointed.
Thank you, Mark and Jody for making this such a memorable experience.
Many thanks for making our trip to the Cape and beyond - so enjoyable. You took us to places we would never have got to otherwise, even if we had driven our own 4WD.
Mark, we were entertained and informed by your commentaries and always felt secure with your skilled handling of Ben. Such a rich cornucopia of experiences were compressed into such a full two weeks.
Jody, thanks for all your admin work – all the accommodation and tours went so smoothly.
Ode To Mark
A trip to the tip of Cape York
Was suddenly more than just talk
Research was done to find someone
Who could take us for this Cape York jaunt
Off Road Adventure Safaris
With Captain Mark at the wheel
Was the choice of seven wise people
To provide us with the real deal
We started off well and very soon we could tell
That we had a treat in store
Mark’s Mountain of knowledge held us in awe
We couldn’t have wished for more
Morning and afternoon tea stops
Always seemed planned to delight us
More often than not at Mark’s secret spots
He had said that he was full of surprises
He doesn’t do jokes but he knows lots of blokes
Like Kevie and Jimbo and Steve
And Linda and Tat Girl, we even met Clancy
Their stories were hard to believe
The end of the trip and we’ve reached the Tip
Through dip after dip after dip
Through floodways’ and creeks, spotting feathers and beaks
We certainly weren’t disappointed
If you want a formidable team
To make sure you get to the Tip
By traversing the Great Divide
Mark and Ben are surely it
And now as we go away I think we all can say
We’ve had an AWESOME EXPERIENCE
A huge THANK YOU MARK
You are a credit to your profession
Jan and Barry (NSW)
(Ben is the name of our bus)
13 Day Accommodated Northern Adventure - 2015 - 'A Magic Trip'
Do you like travelling in really small groups?
With a guide who really knows the area, takes you to places other groups never visit, is absolutely reliable and who works hard to cater to your personal interests - from ancient and modern rock art to wildlife of all kinds?
Do you like good food, with the freshest meals in really inaccessible places?
If you are reading this review you are already thinking about visiting Cape York, and if this sounds like your sort of trip you cannot do better than to go with Off Road Adventure Safaris.
13 Day Accommodated Northern Adventure - 2015 - 'Discovering the Beautiful Outback of Northern Queensland'
We recently completed a 13 night safari for 6 persons, to Cape York/Thursday Is. I wish that I had had the chance to go there earlier.
This tour showed me a part of Australia that was entirely new. It was a real adventure, with many small side-trips not on the itinerary, to seek out something that one of us requested. Mark has a passion for outback Australia, is extremely well-informed, very caring of the needs of the group, an excellent organizer, a fantastic 4-wheel driver (the Telegraph track is a challenge!) and an overall very nice guy of good humour, who was full of pleasant surprises.
We learnt about people living in isolated communities, Aboriginal culture and art, early Australian settlers, the gold-rush and mining and their effects on indigenous people, birds inhabiting the North, crocs, waterways and rivers, and caring for our lands.
Accommodation was varied and mostly of a high standard. Food was generally excellent; although we did not get the mud crab!
My husband and I are 70+ and although the pace was steady, we enjoyed every minute. A minor point was that we would have liked a little more time to explore some of the places that were so new to us.
This is a stupendous trip. I will never forget the long expanses of red dust roads, the beautiful rainforests, streams that we swum in, the aboriginal rock art at Quinkan, chatting with artists at Lockhart River, new birds Joan spotted, sipping cool white wine on Pajinka (a surprise from Mark when we reached the tip), strolls on wonderful deserted beaches and the beautiful sunsets we shared with friends.
Thanks to Mark, and to Jody who is always there behind him.
13 Day Camping / Accommodated Private Charter - 2015 - 'Team Italia'
I have just spent the most amazing time on Cape York with Off Road Adventure Safaris.
Our tour guide and owner of the business was Mark. To say that he gave us a good time would be a massive understatement at least. Mark is a highly experienced tour guide who goes out of his way to cater for the individual needs of his guests.
Our tour was a private charter camping safari which involved seven participants and a second vehicle. Obtaining a suitable vehicle was a story in itself which endorsed Mark’s commitment to our satisfaction before we even met him.
The tour was run with a laid back style which meant that we never felt that we were being rushed from one point to another. All the main sites of Cape York were included in the itinerary with some hidden gems thrown in for good measure. The extras that Mark supplies (fishing gear, sunset platters, $50 dollar tinnies and more) make the journey all the more enjoyable.
The two night stay at Portland Roads and the visit to the Lockhart River Art Centre was well received by all in the group.
At our initial meeting Mark stated that his goal was that by the time we returned to Cairns he wanted us to feel that we had been part of Cape York, not just driven over the top of it. This goal was well and truly achieved.
13 Day Accommodated Northern Adventure - 2015 - 'An unforgettable experience'
Off Road Adventure Safari has given us an experience of a lifetime! A trip planned and executed by our favourite 4wd driver in flawless fashion - with every attention given to the smallest detail throughout.
Mark's knowledge and understanding of the country, the people, the flora and fauna was outstanding, and his knowledge of hidden gems off the beaten track added to our overall enjoyment. To say nothing of his capacity to anticipate all our needs and desires! The accommodation and meals were fantastic.
This particular safari should be on everyone's "must do" list.
Ginny & Tim (NSW)
13 Day Accommodated Northern Adventure - 2015 - 'Great trip to the top end'
Wonderful experience with a very informative and excellent guide.
There are many interesting areas visited that are not available to other tours, and the whole trip puts one in tune with the Far North and the local people.
Mark is a great driver and excellent guide who takes a lot of trouble to get to know what his group likes and wants and does his best to fulfil their wishes.
The indigenous art at Laura was one of the highlights of the trip.
A great trip to the top end and I highly recommend it to all who want to see Cape York; and what a wonderful surprise at the end of the journey.
Ian D (NSW)
13 Day Accommodated Northern Adventure - 2015 - 'Great trip, fantastic organisation'
We just came back from an amazing 4WD trip from Cairns to Cape York.
There were 6 of us in the Landcruiser with Mark. As a tour guide and off-road driver he has lots of experience from many years of outback tours and training work.
He is thoughtful, and well organized, got to know each of us and catered to our interests. He talked to everyone along the way and picked up local information; everyone knew him. And it was great fun.
We came away with precious memories and lots of photos of the birds and animals the vastness of the landscape, the corrugations and the informative flow of information from Mark.
The Sea Eagle and Wedge Tail at the same road kill and the slowly submerging crocodile are unforgettable; but we missed out on catching a Barramundi.
There are different ways to do the Top End and most people with lots of time will use their own vehicle. A shorter accommodated trip like this one suited us, although perhaps not as flexible, but certainly in comfort (as can be) and with confidence.
The food was excellent and the accommodation the best for the locations we were in.
The WWII museum on Horn Island should not be missed and the Art Centre at Lockhart River is a great experience. Overall a great trip.
12 Night Camping Adventure - 2015
My experience taking this trip up Cape York was one of the most memorable trips I have ever had! I took the 12 night camping option and got to discover some of the most breath taking scenery on offer in Australia and explore remote locations by 4WD.
All camping equipment was supplied, comfortable camp stretchers to sleep on and all meals are provided as well (I specified gluten free and had fantastic meals!)
Mark, our tour guide, is definitely an expert in his field and has an extensive knowledge of Cape York and a great enthusiasm to provide each and every person a once in a life time experience on their trip.
I cannot fault one thing about this tour and would recommend it 100% to all age groups. The highlights for me were reaching the very tip of Australia, taking a helicopter ride, Seisia sunsets, magnificent waterfalls, 4WD the telegraph track, catching my first Barra and experiencing the most beautiful, crystal clear stars I have ever seen in my life!!!!
Do yourself a favour and book your adventure here!
13 Day Accommodated Northern Adventure - 2015 - 'Cape York Adventure'
With only 4 of us plus Mark, it meant we had plenty of room. Having 6 plus Mark would be a little uncomfortable for our age group.
That aside, Mark's organisation, his experience and enthusiasm meant we were never bored and were always being educated in the ways of the Cape. He is a very good guide and very considerate of his guests.
The accommodation in the main was what we expected, although Portland Roads was a little bit disappointing for a couple of the group and probably not up to the standard we expected. But it is quirky. The food in the café next door was just great as it was in Lotus Bird Lodge and for the rest of the trip, it was fine for what we were doing. Try the wood fired pizza in Punsand Bay as well. The wine was not as expensive as we thought it would be which was a plus.
Overall, it was just a great trip, with wonderful memories so thank you Mark.
12 Day Drive / Fly Accommodated Private Charter - 2014
To those who want to experience Cape York Peninsular, I have recently returned from travelling with 5 lady friends, all seniors, on a 12 day accommodated tour of Cape York Peninsular with Off Road Adventure Safaris, in the very capable hands of owner operator Mark Essenhigh.
Mark’s love and experience of ‘The Cape’ soon became evident as we set off from Cairns heading for the ‘tip’. Although we had an itinerary which promised to take us to all the ‘must see’ attractions along the way, we found our days were full as often we found ourselves enjoying an extra inclusion and other niceties in unexpected places.
The tour included a variety of accommodation, some equal to major city properties, a comfortable tent in the wilderness, a cabin in the rainforest just meters from the beach, and an unusual, very comfortable beach house at an ‘off the beaten track’ destination, all staffed with amazingly helpful, friendly people who were a delight to meet. All meals were included and just great, menu’s displayed a good selection including fresh fish, salads & vegetables, all prepared to perfection even though we were ‘ in the middle of nowhere’! All picnic lunches more than sustained us & were enjoyed by a shady creek or scenic area.
Mark’s knowledge of the history, wildlife, Aboriginal Culture, the characters that contribute to the Peninsula’s charm & way of life, the land & the road/ track system were all outstanding. His ability as a 4WD driver was very reassuring & at all times we felt very safe & in capable hands.
The scenery as we progressed was ever changing, interesting & held our attention each day and we delighted in the many creek & river crossings that contribute to the geology of the cape. The inclusion of the journey along the track of the original Telegraph Line to the cape was exhilarating to say the least, what an exciting day, not only because of the experience of the historic track & scenery but the wonderful ‘comradeship’ that exists among fellow 4WDers. Certainly a day to remember.
To stand at the ‘tip’ – the most northern point of mainland Australia was a feeling of achievement & though rocky & baron looking, a great place to be & one realises how close we are to our northern neighbours. We were all very happy to have ‘made it to the top’!
To conclude the tour with a visit to Thursday Island & Horn Island is an excellent way to learn & experience a little of island life and our WW11 history of our far north eastern shores was an informative & surprising conclusion.
I would strongly recommend this destination to all with an adventurous spirit who want to experience this unique part of Australia that is Far North Queensland and encourage them to travel with Mark Essenhigh, tour operator extraordinaire - you won’t be disappointed.
12 Day Drive / Fly Accommodated Private Charter – 2013
Just completed a fantastic 12 day trip from Cairns to the tip – there were 4 of us in the party.
Mark put together a great itinerary which was customised to our needs – the primary requirement being no camping! The accommodation that Mark found was the best available in the area and was, in the main, acceptable. One needs to consider the isolation of many of the places you will be staying at when you consider the quality of the accommodation. The best was Lotus Bird Lodge. The meals were great.
The key value points were:
1) Mark’s knowledge and experience enabled him to find terrific spots for our breaks for lunch, morning and afternoon tea.
2) Mark’s knowledge about local communities, fauna and flora – we certainly learned a lot.
3) Safety – the 4WD was well equipped and Mark’s driving ability and skills led to everyone feeling safe and confident. Some of the roads that you travel can be a little intimidating for city slickers.
If you’re considering this trip then I would certainly recommend this as the best way to go – it is a once in a lifetime opportunity to see FNQ. Most of the options (tagalong, Outback Spirit etc) all come in about the same price range in the long run. I believe the extra couple of hundred dollars that a customised tour that Mark can put together is well worth it. Travelling in a small group 4-6 is a great idea, so put together a group of friends and go for it! You’ll be in good hands with Mark.
12 Night Camping Adventure - 2012
Recently enjoyed a 12 day camping trip to Cape York with Off Road Adventure Safaris.
Everything was well thought out and made camping very comfortable with easy to erect tents and stretchers and all linen supplied. Mark was very obliging and nothing too much trouble.
Marks experience and expertise, as well as his knowledge of the Cape, the people, flora and fauna made you feel you were in good hands. We were also treated regularly to ‘brought to you exclusively by Off Road Adventure Safaris’.
Would recommend Mark and Off Road Adventure Safaris for whatever trip you had in mind.
12 Day Drive / Fly Accommodated Indigenous Art Private Charter – 2012
Just returned from 12 fabulous days driving to Pajinka (the tip of Cape York) with Off Road Adventure Safaris.
A 4-wheel drive with our own driver, Mark, who ensured we saw and experienced great scenery, toured unique private Aboriginal art sites and experienced the rough roads and wild rivers in absolute safety. Highly recommended.
Letter of Appreciation – Mater Foundation – Mater Little Miracles – 2012
Thank you so much for your very kind and generous donation to the auction at Mater Little Miracles Ball on Saturday, 18 February, 2012. The 11 Night Cape York Safari Adventure was very popular in the auction with frantic bidding for it! In the end, it sold for $3500, which is a great result!
Funds raised at the Mater Little Miracles Ball helps the thousands of seriously ill children and babies from across Queensland and Northern NSW who are cared for at Mater Mothers’ and Mater Children’s Hospitals each year.
We truly appreciate your donation, you’ve helped us to raise a record amount which will help make little miracles happen!
Amie Wiggins – Mater Foundation (QLD)
12 Day Camping Safari – 2011
I had the most wonderful adventure. I loved every moment of it. Mark – you were extremely professional, the equipment was 1st Class. The small group was great. The experience and memories I will treasure always. Thank you.
Micheal & Margot (VIC)
8 Day Drive / Fly Accommodated Safari – 2011
To Mark – Guide Extraordinaire! – Thank you so much for all the places, things and people you’ve shown us, your amazing knowledge you’ve shared with us, your patience and flexibility and being an all round great guy. A fantastic Cape York experience!!
8 Day Drive / Fly Accommodated Safari – 2011
Thank you so much for a truly memorable experience. I have wanted to do this trip for many years and I have been ‘Blown Away’ by what I have seen and heard. You have put so much into providing a first class service and by taking us off the beaten track. Keep up the good work.
8 Day Drive / Fly Accommodated Safari – 2011
A trip of a lifetime. Mark was an excellent guide. The accommodation was an experience and varied and of a high quality. A great itinerary. Not enough space to adequately express my satisfaction with this tour. Fantastic!
Our adventure with Off Road Adventure Safaris surpassed all my expectations. Mark was a terrific guide and went out of his way to ensure that all ran smoothly and we all had a great time. I would like to go on another adventure with Off Road Adventure Safaris sometime in the future. Thanks Mark & Jody!