Now, when I tell you I love alligators, I mean I LOVE alligators. I get so excited when I see one! I wish they were into cuddling because I would totally cuddle with one. I love their little eyes that watch you from the glassy surface of the water, I love the sound the little grunts make when they are calling to their mama, I love their soft, squishy, cool bellies.
I have always wanted to go to the Everglades and finally made it happen. It's not a difficult or expensive trip I just didn't make it a priority. I decided it was time and begged Lisa to bring the kids along. We were in for fun and I had heard they had alligators down there! ;-) Many people don't know that the Everglades, right here in little 'ol Florida, is the ONLY place in the world where you can find BOTH alligators and crocodiles. How can you tell them apart? Well, you won't see many crocodiles, if any, and also - the crocodiles are the ugly ones and the gators are the pretty ones. Now you know.
The Florida Everglades are the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States and have been named a World Heritage Site and an International Biosphere Reserve and a Wetland of International Importance. Visiting the Everglades allows you to explore a vast diversity of flora and fauna in different eco-systems: freshwater sloughs, marl prairies, tropical hammocks, pineland, cypress, mangrove, coastal lowlands, marine, and estuarine.
The Everglades used to span from Lake Okeechobee in central Florida all the way down to Florida Bay. Starting in the 1800's developers began digging canals and draining the wetlands. Agriculture and urban sprawl have eaten away at the Everglades every since. Now only 25% of the historic Everglades remains, which is being protected by the National Park.
The Everglades spans across 1.5 million acres that stretches all the way from central Florida, near Orlando, all the way south to Florida Bay. The Everglades is not a swamp like many people believe. It is technically a river, flowing at the slow rate of about a quarter mile per day. Water leaving Lake Okeechobee in the wet season forms this slow moving river which is 60 miles wide and over 100 miles long.
We took three different airboat rides, one of the mangroves, one of the grasslands and one more that was just for good measure. It was a blast, the kids loved it and we definitely saw gators but the highest concentration of gators was actually on a road called Turner River Road. The river runs parallel to the road for the length of it and there are gators every where you look! You can drive along in your own car and get out if you are brave enough. I'm not recommending it though. This is when a sunroof comes in handy!
We stayed in Everglades City, population 400. Total area of Everglades City is 1.2 sq miles. Only .9 of that is land. It's a tiny little city famous mostly for it's airboats and alligators. Lodging is old and nothing is fancy but it's sure convenient for exploring the Glades.
We saw tourists from all over so apparently even overseas they know how cool the Everglades are! It's such an easy, inexpensive trip so there are no excuses not to go! You'll love it!