Exploring the Everglades

By | Category: Travel destinations

Alligator at Sawgrass Recreation Park (image copyright kolypie @ flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/kolybrain/)

Alligator at Sawgrass Recreation Park (image copyright kolypie @ flickr - http://www.flickr.com/photos/kolybrain/)

It’s one of the must-see things to do if you visit Florida. Pictures are conjured up from countless flms as goodies chased baddies or vice versa on airboats as they hurtled through narrow waterways, Even Del-boy in Only Fools and Horses had a trip on an airboat.

As usual life’s not like that. The Everglades are such a special and important eco-feature that any tours need to be carefully managed. Some tours only travel down almost manicured trails but there is one by Sawgrass Recreation Park that takes you out into the main body of the Everglades. Just 20 minutes from Fort Lauderdale in a place called Weston, you’ll find the family owned business which consists of sisters, husbands and, probably, offspring as both sisters are due to give birth within a month of each other.

This is more than just a trip on an airboat. That will take about 30 minutes and you’ll never be more than about one out of 25. During that time it would be surprising not to see alligators, birds and oher wildlife. Because the airboats are open topped, there are lots of opportunities for photography, but for those with balding heads,wear hats. There might be a breeze but at almost any time of the year, the sun can be hot so take plenty of suncream,- or suffer like I did! The airboats travel quite fast (up to 40 mph) so don’t consider this type of attraction if it is raining, Sawgrass won’t operate because their passengers will see next to nothing.

After the trip you can see Cannibal, a 1300lb alligator who is about 42 years old. He lives in the park along with some 21 other rescue alligators, 7 caymans and 2 crocodiles. A few can’t be released back into the wild so they end at sanctuaries like Sawgrass. There are some 70 animals that have been adopted or rescued including invasive non native animals that would have been destroyed if a refuge hadn’t been found. Some of the baby alligators you can hold although I’m not sure I would be tempted to do that, and they don’t stay babies long growing at about a foot a year for the first 5 years of the lives.

Predators Unlimited are allied with Sawgrass and bring in endangered species to educate visitors. You might see a Florida Panther, a bobcat or a timber wolf. It’s pot luck. But you’ll find you have easily spent 2 hours at Sawgrass including the airboat ride. And it will cost $19.50 for an adult and $10 for a child aged between 4 and 12. Compared to some of the prices I’ve seen, that’s bargain. Oh and don’t forget on top of this price there will be sales tax increasing it to about $21/$22.

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