Few books I read as a child had the Florida Everglades as the setting. At that time I was intrigued by the description of the Everglades, and had associated Florida with the Everglades in my mind.
When I found a $100 plane ticket to Florida, I knew one of the things I wanted to do there was to see the Everglades. Specifically, I wanted to ride the airboat thorough the Everglades like “Horatio” in CSI: Miami.
Near the end of our vacation we did an airboat tour. I booked ahead of time through email with “Everglades River of Grass Adventures – Tours“. The booking process and the response to questions were instant and very professional. We choose this company because it has a five star rating on trip advisor, and it offered 1.5 hour tours. I wanted a tour that gave us a reasonable amount of time at the Everglades. Most tours I initially saw were for 30 minutes.
The day of the tour we made it to the meeting place, which is a gas station. A nice one with a section for the tour company. This was about 45 minutes from Miami Beach. Once we checked in with the admin lady – we followed her to to another location about five minutes away, the start of the everglades. There were multiple air boats there with different guides/drivers.
We were lucky enough to end up with Steve as our airboat driver and guide. Steve has been around the Everglades for 40 years or so, and he was a former Zoo keeper.
The airboat we were on could hold up to eight people including the driver. Our tour had only seven people – which gave us some extra room on the boat.
As a kid I thought the everglades consisted of mountains, grassy areas , trees and large water areas where alligators lived. What I realized on the tour was that the everglades is a large never ending water filled grassy area, with some areas having small low hanging bush like trees with small open water areas. The amount of water in the different areas can differ depending on the amount of rainfall.
Steve – our guide told us in the summer months the water can completely dry up in some areas.
The everglades are home to multiple type of animals – many type of birds, alligators, crocodiles, turtles, many type of fishes, bear, deer and many more.
When you are riding an airboat you have to wear noise cancelling earplugs. Our tour company gave us a good quality earplugs for no additional cost. Do check with your tour company when booking a tour.
Once we loaded on to the airboat it started moving slowly, and it picked up speed. The cool thing about an airboat is that it can go on both water and land ( given it is a good quality airboat). Ours went over water. However, it didn’t go over on water alone – it cut through grass and went all over the grass filled field areas instead of following one predefined path. The boat has an attachment in the front of the boat that pushes/cuts grass as it goes over grass filled areas.
Many people go on these tours to see animals, mainly alligators. However, the experience of riding on an airboat, cutting through grass going at 50 miles per hour itself is a worthwhile experience. It is a unique experience and I very much loved it.
Steve was an excellent guide and guided our boat to places within the Everglades where we saw many different type of animals. We saw an alligator called Jumper, another adult alligator without a name, many alligator babies of different size, turtles, cat fish and other type of fishes, and different type of birds including a colorful bird called Purple Gallinule.
He also educated us on the Everglades, and the history of the area. He has been living around the area since he was born and his stories were educational and entertaining. We were lucky to have him as our guide.
A unique experience I highly recommend for anyone that visits Central & South Florida. Make sure to choose a reputable tour company based on reviews. I highly recommend the one we did our tour with !