How Would You Like to Spend a Day in Everglades National Park?

Recently I spent some time in Florida, and Hyatt kindly hosted me on an Everglades National Park tour with Everglades Excursions! I hadn’t seen the Everglades since I was a little girl, and I’d never been on an airboat, so it was quite the adventure! (I am so excited that I will be staying at the Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires in less than 10 days!!!)

I was greeted by our tour guide, Dave, in Naples. We drove to the Everglades from Naples and the roomy van was quite comfortable. Dave was a fount of knowledge…I would bet he knows as much about the Everglades as anyone. He has spent a great deal of his life and his time there. My understanding is that he came from up north and is a transplant, he is not a Florida Cracker. I had never heard that term used before, but it means pioneer settlers and their descendants in what is now the U.S. state of Florida. It is not a derogatory word, indeed it is the opposite, Florida Crackers are very proud of their heritage.

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

Dave!

On our way, we stopped at a couple of locations to see baby gators and manatees. The baby gators were all over the creek bank, and mama was lying quietly in the water. We also saw manatees under the water.

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

Manatee under the water. All you could on the surface was their nose when they took a breath.

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

On the creek bank there were many baby gators. This one is about two feet long.

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

Gorgeous crane of some kind, not sure of the exact species.

When we arrived at the marina, we were greeted by a woman with a two foot long alligator in her arms. Normally, I would not do this, but I had never touched an alligator, crocodile, or cayman before, and I could not resist the chance to look into its eyes and feel its leathery, thick skin. Alligators carry a terrible, sometimes fatal, bacteria in their mouths, so when someone holds one they put a band around their mouth. I suppose I had always imagined they would feel slimy and rough, but I could not have been more wrong. She was a beautiful animal, and her skin felt like soft leather. She had bony plates on her back. It was absolutely fascinating to see an alligator close up. Of course, the most arresting feature was her eyes. I’m sure you’ve seen the reality shows about hunting alligators, and they have gone from endangered to being overrun. There is a hunting season every year to cull their numbers.

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

Look at this fantastic eye and beautiful skin of a baby alligator.

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

I normally would not do this, but I just could not resist checking her out thoroughly.

Next was a boat ride! The airboats are pretty cool…it looks like someone just stuck a big fan on a flat boat, and I suppose when you get right down to it, that is exactly what it is! Our Captain was experienced, and soon had us on the airboat and off into the Everglades.

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

This boat is LOUD. See the headphones on the seats up front?

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

Captain.

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

These canals and waterways are magical. One should consider the time of year, though, I did this in December, not summer! I’m sure the bugs would be a horror in the summer season.

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

Red Mangrove trees.

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

A beautiful, large Blue Heron!

Everglades National Park, Everglades tour, Florida

Beautiful, large Blue Heron

The next time you are in southern Florida, I urge you to take a tour of the Everglades. It was absolutely fascinating! Our National Parks are absolute treasures, and we must protect them against exploitation of any kind. These habitats are invaluable.

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About the Author ()

I am an avid scuba diver, underwater photographer, amateur historian; interested in all people and cultures. For me, the unexpected is usually the norm! My motto? I am an Empty Nester who likes to Renew, Revamp, and Reinvent Life! Contact me at travelswithtam@gmail.com

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