Christmas Everglades Tour
Like I had said in my last post, I’m trying to catch up with all that has been going on since I got here in Florida. Back in December a few of us FEMA folks who were not able to go home for Christmas decided to enjoy a day off and go on an Everglades tour.
A week earlier, I had taken a Sunday road trip to the Everglades and drove my rental car down a long dirt road through the mangroves spotting alligators and other wildlife. This time however, we were going to play tourist for the day and we signed up for an everglades tour through Everglades Adventures.
Our day started with being picked up in Fort Myers by our Tour Guide Kelsey. She is a local Floridian, who’s love of the natural world of the everglades and central Florida was readily apparent. As we drove south in the van, she explained the history of the everglades, while pointing out, by name, numerous birds, fauna and other wild creatures.
The first order of the day was a swamp buggy ride through the watery forests of the everglades
Our driver took us on an everglades tour stopping at a reconstructed Indian home as it was back in the day and a moonshiner’s cabin.
The highlight of the swamp tour was the black bears. First we spotted a large male bear as he hung in the shadows and fed. After taken a few photos and watching him for a few minutes, we continued on our swamp buggy ride through the woods. A short distance later, we again found ourselves watching over a black bear. This time we watched a sow and her cub feed on some corn that had been placed out for them to enjoy.
Following our swamp buggy ride, we crossed the street and boarded an air-boat for the next part of our everglades tour. This was a new experience for me. I had never ridden in air-boat before and enjoyed the sliding around the open water and threading through the tight channels. We stopped only to sneak up on a few alligators before resuming our high-speed run.
Next on the agenda was the alligator farm. Here we saw not only a variety of gators of varying sizes, but American Crocodiles, puma, lions, tigers, and bears, Oh My! (I know, a bad Wizard of Oz reference).
But wait. There’s more. Next we had lunch in a local cafe’ enjoying gator bites, fish sandwiches and sweet tea.
Following lunch, Kelsey had one more item up her sleeve. We boarded the van and went to visit one of her friends who cares for several tropical birds and some reptiles including one super-sized Red-tail boa. The monster was over 17 feet in length and hit the scales at over 300 pounds. We cared on conversations with the colorful birds, held a large ball python and small alligator before completing the day.
Normally, I’m inclined to steer away for the touristy stuff and explore a new area on my own, but our day with Everglades Adventures was well worth the price. I enjoyed the day learning about the history of the everglades, seeing the wildlife from the swamp buggy and air-boat. Best of all I got to handle an alligator and 50 pound snake.