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I engaged in a little local travel to the Florida Everglades for Labor Day weekend and went on an airboat tour with Captain Doug’s.
I’ve lived in South Florida for a few years, and have never done this before. I know, it’s sad. :( Airboat tours are kinda expensive at $40 per person for an hour, but I knew it was something I had to do before I leave Florida.
There are a few different airboat tour companies working out of Everglades City, this one seemed to get the best reviews on Trip Advisor, so we went with it. Before picking up our tickets, we also ate some Deep Fried Alligator at a restaurant next door called The Everglades Seafood Depot that overlooked the swamp.
The airboat only had room for 4 people, which I liked because it felt more personal. We motored along and the captain had us put on some heavy duty rain ponchos because a thunderstorm was heading our way. At first, we moved along pretty slowly through the mangrove swamps, listening to birds and watching schools of fish feed on the surface.
Suddenly the captain hit the gas and we flew through the narrow corridor of mangrove at 20 or 30 MPH with trees whipping by on either side… it was great! I couldn’t believe how much control he had over the boat, because it’s only powered by a gigantic fan. I thought for sure we would slam into some trees, but he knew just when to turn to avoid them.
Then we watched an Osprey catch a large fish with its sharp talons and fly up to a tree while keeping an eye on us.
After a while, the airboat turned off into another section of the swamp with a small lagoon. Right away you could see a large 9-foot alligator hanging out in the middle. We slowed down and pulled up to it, and it started to swim closer to us. I guess alligators can jump up to half their body length using their powerful tails, and many of the airboat operators in the area have had alligators jump in at some time.
The alligator swam right up to the side of the boat, it’s black, evil-looking eyes staring right at me! Luckily it didn’t feel like jumping in today… :|
Many people are scared of alligators, and mistakenly think they attack humans all the time. This is very rare, and 99% of alligator attacks are provoked by people. They’re not going to chase you down while you’re watching them. I think the misunderstanding is based on stories of crocodile attacks. Saltwater crocodiles are much more aggressive and do attack people occasionally.
But sometimes knowing the facts doesn’t help calm your fear, when a giant prehistoric-looking monster is staring you down from 2 feet away… I think he knew I ate his buddy for lunch.
Location: Everglades, Florida
Total Cost: $23 USD adults, $13 USD children
Official Website: Everglades Tours
Useful Notes: Don’t stick your hand out of the boat. Just in case you meet a very hungry alligator.
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Have any questions about Everglades? What about other suggestions? Drop me a message in the comments below!