By: Kara Franker
Take a guided tour through the Florida Everglades.
The Everglades are more than 60 miles wide and 100 miles long. It’s a daunting task to explore and understand all that land on your own, why not trust your travels with the professionals and book a tour that’s catered to exactly how you want to see the area? Photographers, nature lovers, eco-enthusiasts, adventurers, fishermen, kayakers, canoers and groups can schedule a tour to see the Everglades the way they want to.
Every tour in the Everglades is different. Whether you’re coming back on an annual trek or experiencing the wonders of the Everglades wildlife for the first time, you’ll never have the same experience twice. One trip you may see dolphins, bald eagles and sea turtles and the next you may see an endangered manatee or a native bird like the heron, egret or roseate spoonbill.
There is no way more popular to see the Everglades than an airboat tour. Powered by an aircraft engine, these shallow-draft boats are specifically designed for swamplands. Tour operators have made them comfortable and affordable, so that interested adventurers can explore the mangroves and possibly see manatees, alligators and more up close. Tours are available through the Miccosukee Indian Village and Coopertown Everglades Airboat Tours.
Shark Valley Bike and Tram Tours
Many cyclists enjoy the ride through Shark Valley. This 15-mile bike loop is long and challenging, with plenty of natural obstacles and along the way. Cyclists can rent bikes from the Tram Tour Concession, which is located inside the Shark Valley Visitor Center. Or hop on the relaxing and guided Shark Valley Tram Tour. This open-air tram will take you through the deepest corners of the Florida Everglades, namely the Shark River Slough, all guided by an experienced naturalist with knowledge about the rare plants, animals and ecosystems you’ll see along the way. In the middle of the tour, you will be able to stop and enjoy impeccable views of this protected natural habitat from a 45-foot observation deck. Tours usually last one hour, and leave daily almost every hour, on the hour, during the morning and afternoon. Tram tours depart from the Shark Valley Visitor Center.
Birding and Photography Tour
Are you an avid photographer? If so, the Florida Everglades has plenty of idyllic sights and views for you to capture. A tour for birding and photography is the perfect way to find the area’s 300+ species of birds, alligators, turtles and more, and is led by an experienced guide who knows all of their favorite nesting areas. Private tours are also available, and give you and your guide ample one-on-one time to make sure you get the best shots and angles. To book an excursion through a private company, check out Everglades Adventure Tours or Everglades Area Tours.
If you like to fish, take advantage of the Everglades’ varied species of fish like bass, snook, tarpon, Spanish mackerel, snapper, trout and more. If you want to know the best places to go, and don’t have a license to fish on your own, sign up for a fishing tour. Whether you take a private tour or register for a group trip, your guide will have all of the tackle, rods and bait you need. Plus, depending what you catch, you can even take your bounty home with you and prepare a delicious evening meal. To book a fishing charter, contact Captain Rapps Fishing Charters, Chokoloskee Charters or Everglades Fishing Charters.
For a tour that’s a little more hands on, hop on a kayak and see the Everglades for yourself. There are countless water tunnels both novice and experienced travelers can float through, whether it’s just to see the mangroves up close or to go bird watching from a unique vantage point. If you’re new to the activity, hop on an eco-adventure tour, where a boat will take you out to safety with kayaks onboard, and let you paddle around a secluded, preserved area without the strenuous activity that could be a full day of kayaking. More adventurous kayakers, on the other hand, can meet with experienced professionals for basic information like where to go, how to get started and what equipment to rent and then take on the waterways of the Florida Everglades on your own. Canoe and kayak rentals start at $20 for two hours and are available at Everglades National Park Boat Tours at the Flamingo Marina, 38 miles south of the entrance gate.
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