The Americas travel blog

Air boats in the Everglades

Up at 6-15 as we are kayaking through the Everglades from 7-11am. There are 3 of us on this trip today and our guide is Dustin. We take a van with the kayaks on a trailer behind us, about 15 mins out of Everglades City. The kayaks get unloaded and we are provided with life vests and a hat with netting as the mosquitoes will be bad. This is when we apply the first lot of insect repellent too, over skin and clothes. I get the feeling there might be a few mozzies!

The day will be hot but this morning is mild so far. We kayak along several waterways, then dismantle our large double paddle into two oars and use one of those to paddle our kayaks through 6 tunnels. It's so eerie in amongst the mangroves. We are quite spread out through some of the tunnels so there are times when you are all alone and all you can hear is your paddle being pushed through the water, oh and a few mozzies buzzing beside your ear. At times the tunnel opens out into a larger body of water where we regroup and then Dustin guides us into the next tunnel. There a lots of birds but we did not see one alligator. I can't believe we saw one on a highway yesterday and yet we paddled around in mangroves, where alligators should be, for 4 hours, and we didn't see a single one! Apparently the nights here have been so warm lately that the alligators have not needed to sun themselves during the day so they are remaining underwater. We still thoroughly enjoyed the paddling and the mangroves even if we didn't see any alligators or in fact any manatees either.

Talking about that elusive manatee. This is our second last day and we still haven't seen one. Frank the other person with us today saw one when he was just standing on a dock in Key West. We could have seen one at John Pennekamp, or kayaking at Islamorada, or yesterday near the 10,000 islands or today kayaking but we haven't had any luck. I'm starting to wonder if they actually exist!

Back to the Hotel for a shower and lunch next door at the diner. There are only 3 places to eat here, as Everglades City is a small town, not really a city. After lunch we have an air boat ride. Peaceful and tranquil was the paddling this morning and very noisy and fast is the ride this afternoon. The air boat is fun though. They power over the water around tight bends, in the tunnels and almost do 360's when the captain powers off. The kids in the front row get a nice shower of water. Surprisingly on this noisy boat we get a glimpse, and I mean a glimpse, as it was only part of the tail of a baby manatee as we are travelling at a lower speed in a particularly tight tunnel. I suppose we can say we did see one, although it would have been better if we could have seen the whole thing! Further on we see two alligators and the captain comments that these are the first he has seen today. That's nature for you. Sometimes you are lucky and sometimes not!

We decide to try the 3rd restaurant/bar in town tonight, have a couple of drinks there but the menu doesn't look great so decide to have a pizza at the diner next to our Hotel.

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