The Everglades is the largest remaining subtropical wilderness in the United States. With over 1.5 million acres of sawgrass marshes, mangrove forests, and many species of endangered and exotic wildlife, this territory is undoubtedly an exotic part of the world. So when you are ready to jump into our nation’s version of a rainforest, here’s what you need to bring:
1. Sunglasses, sunscreen and a hat
The locals in Ochopee, Florida can tell you where to go for an unbelievable day in the wetlands that includes an airboat tour or a swamp buggy tour. If you’ve never ridden an airboat, you’re in for quite a trip. The windy ride takes you through the water in varying speeds and turns, and through the grasses and mangrove trees (called “Walking Trees” by the Native Americans). A swamp buggy tour is a bumpy, slower adventure that starts and ends on land, but takes you through the water into the swamp.
2. Steady hands and a camera
There’s more than just gators in these swamplands. You’ll see a variety of wildlife, trees and plants, so be ready for anything. Look in every direction – there are few things here that you will see for an extended period of time. You might see deer, raccoons or a panther or one of the many varieties of birds and insects. Hold that camera tight and get ready to click.
3. Your thinking cap
You might think as you go deeper into the Everglades, that the entire focus will be on the wildlife. You’ll learn the difference between alligators and crocodiles (it’s the only place in the world where The American alligator and American crocodile co-exist) and other wildlife facts. But you may find yourself drawn into the rich history of the Seminoles, who thrived in the region. Their tales of survival are mesmerizing and give you another view of American history.
4. An open mind
If one alligator makes you nervous, be prepared to see a serious number of reptiles. In this part of the country, alligators and crocodiles reign supreme. An alligator show highlights the creature’s super-fast reflexes, lifestyle and eating habits and gives you an appreciation of the power of this animal. If you get really ambitious, you can hold an alligator – make sure someone takes your picture!