An 'Air Raising Aligator Airboat Adventure at Everglades! | Designer Travel

I am generally not one for ‘organised excursions’ preferring to create my own itinerary (goes with my job I suppose!) but realising we would have quite a few hours to spare between our cruise ship docking in Fort Lauderdale, and our flight back to the UK, we agreed to take an organised detour to Everglades National Park.

It is a huge place, (over 1,500,000 acres) and is worthy of a whole vacation itself. Whether you camp or stay in a motel, hotel or guest house, and whether you drive, hike, bike, canoe, kayak, ramble or amble you will be perpetually astounded by 25 types of orchids, more than 1000 other kinds of plants and 120 different species of trees. Add to that more than 36 threatened or endangered animal species and 300+ types of birds, and you start to realise the sheer scale and uniqueness of this UNESCO World Heritage Site.

But for us..it was time to take to the water – on our Airboat Tour….there are lots of companies, offering variations on the theme, and boats depart every few minutes! A nice gentle start, slowly meandering down a canal, being directed to look this way and that at the unusual birds, the turtles and the other wildlife – and then, all of a sudden we are off!…these airboats can’t half shift – it felt to me that we went from nought to sixty in a nano-second! Actually it was about 40 mph, which was definitely fast enough – it was like we skimmed on, rather than sailed through what looked like a ‘sea of grass.’ It was quite literally hair raising and exhilarating, if a little scary!

But more scary was to come. Since there more than 200,000 alligators in Everglades you are virtually guaranteed to see some…but perhaps not quite as up close a personal as it turned out to be. Having reduced our speed to a minimum, and then ‘cut’ our engines our experienced pilot and guide skillfully negotiated the waters to introduce us to his particular favourites, to some of whom he had given names! (One 9′ long alligator is aptly named Jumbo!) We were literally close enough to touch them, and they us! This is not a deep sided vessel and the waters are shallow – and despite their appearance to the contrary, the ‘gators are NOT tame! It was through a sheer act of bravery (or stupidity) that I managed to take photos, like the one displayed here! Our pilot was a fountain of knowledge, and told us so much about the Everglades history and its wildlife, about the deer, panthers and wild boar, and the fact that apparently this is the only place in the world where alligators exist alongside crocodiles! He also talked passionately about the 28 species of snakes, which I am relieved to say we didn’t see!

This was a spectacular adventure, in a stunning environment, which I can thoroughly recommend, and if you would like to know more, please contact me anytime on 023 80863663 / 07833504985


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