My entire impression of the Everglades National Park is taken from films and TV, so I only know it as a series of grasslands with airboats zooming along over the top. There’s usually a dead body somewhere, the killer of which will be found within the hour using a team of attractive CSIs and a montage.
Walking around one of the tiny towns inside the park I soon realised it wasn’t all grass prairies and tight-trousered detectives – there’s a huge variety of environments and wildlife.
In the end we took three different tours, to visit a broad range of sights.
Kayaking the Everglades
Most of the tours are just sitting on an airboat, so we started off with the most energetic – paddling ourselves round the bay in a kayak.
When we arrived we were shown the route, which looked a surprisingly long way to paddle for two beginners. It was a relief when we walked over to the kayaks to find them mounted on the front of a motorboat.
Our guide was a suntanned man who clearly loved the outdoors. On the short boat ride to the drop off point he showed us nesting eagles, followed a pod of dolphins while we failed to take photos and got surprisingly up close to some flamingos.
The outer edges of the Everglades are ringed with a series of tiny islands, grown up around the mangrove roots. Those further inland are made from thick black silt, while those on the edges are white sand and shells.
He took the boat near to one of the islands and we got into the canoes to continue the tour. To be honest, there wasn’t a great deal of difference between wildlife spotting whilst kayaking and from a boat, apart from having to paddle.
We beached the kayaks on one of the outermost islands and wandered along the shore. The surface of the sand is covered with numerous types of seashells and crabs.
At the tip of the island we rounded the corner and found two guys fishing with large nets. They didn’t want to chat and they didn’t seem to be catching anything, so no idea what they were after.
Eventually it was time to return the kayaks, and we agreed it was a decent tour, lots to see and learn, but best of all a bit of exercise after driving all the way from Texas.