The Florida Everglades is one of the last untamed wildernesses in the USA. It is a truly extraordinary place. This sub tropical wetland hosts more than 750 kinds of animals – including several endangered species. It is beautiful, magical and an important part of the planet’s natural heritage. So, what’s it like to visit the Everglades? Read on to find out.
The size and diversity of the Everglades is incredibly impressive. You’ll find 1.5 million acres of pineland, mangrove, coastal lowlands, tropical hammocks and freshwater sloughs in the Everglades. Much of it is only accessible by boat, so we planned ahead, booked an airboat tour, and focused on the areas where we’d see the most wildlife. The airboat tour was impressive. Since the boat is flat and open, you are perfectly placed to see so much of the surrounding landscape. Even though the Everglades has a slow, relaxing pace of life, riding on an airboat was a real adrenalin rush.
An airboat tour of the Everglades in Florida. Airboats are best suited to these shallow waters.
The Everglades National Park area is enormous so traveling by airboat means that you’ll cover lots of ground, and water. The more ground you cover, then the more chance there is of seeing more wildlife. Added to that, you’re airboat guide is likely to know where specific types of animals hang out, so you’ll benefit from that knowledge. Our guide’s input thoroughly enriched our experience.
An aerial view of the Florida Everglades and wetlands.
The wildlife here is incredible. Whether you’re a wildlife lover or not, you can’t fail to be impressed by the sights of the huge variety of birds that live here as well as snakes and racoons. The Everglades is also home to some protected species too – including the Florida panther, the American crocodile, the West Indian Manatee and four types of turtles, some of whom you can see snoozing on lily pads. If you want to see gators, then this is the best place to see them. They are formidable and our airboat tour took us right into the swamps where you’re most likely to spot one. We saw two or three lurking in the waters and our guide pointed out one of their offspring waiting by the side of the water – perfectly camouflaged by the scrub. Interestingly this is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators exist side by side.
A young alligator in the Everglades, Florida.
When you’re cruising through the Everglades it’s hard to imagine that so much of the Florida we know today was covered in this type of landscape. Large swathes were drained and this made way for cities like Miami and Fort Lauderdale. The Everglades is a fascinating part of Florida’s recent history.
Sunset over the Florida Everglades.
It is little wonder that the Everglades welcome over 1 million visitors each year. It is a truly memorable and important location – a rich UNESCO World Heritage Site that gifts its visitors with a sense of wonder in the power and importance of our natural environment. If you are planning to see the Everglades, then the best period to visit is during the dry season from December to April. You’ll benefit from mild temperatures and low humidity. That period also offers peak wildlife viewing opportunities since birds will be making their way south. For more information on tours of the Everglades, then check out the Gray Line Miami website at graylinemiami.com – they offer a variety of tour options, including airboat rides of the Everglades.