Swamp safari… Wanna fill the day with speed, action, thrills and adventure (and a bit of danger)?! Florida has huge swamp areas where the wildlife is well preserved. These are the kingdoms of birds, plants and… alligators. Highly recommended by friends of ours, we put an air boat ride on our schedule – although we were not totally convinced that this was a smart thing to do (we were sure the captain would have us sign damage waivers, stating that we wouldn’t sue the air boat company if we were so unfortunate to be eaten by a member of the local wildlife, i.e. a crawling creature with loads of knife sharp teeth).
We made a reservation on the internet and entered the address into our GPS. And as residential areas and interstates disappeared in the rear view mirror and the woods grew thicker on each side of the road, eating up all signs of civilization, we moved closer and closer to the swamplands. And when we finally turned on to a road made of gravel, the smalltalk between us slowly stopped – and was replaced by nervous checking of cameras and sun oil. What had we signed up for?! Was there an option to cancel and get the money refunded?! We never checked: The air boat ride people were friendly, and the captain claimed that he used to work at the Coast Guard, so we felt safe. He looked really calm!
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In the summer, the best time to see alligators in the swamp is early in the morning or at night. We took a trip in the afternoon, so we really didn’t dare to expect too many four-legged killers along the way. But we were lucky! As we sailed through the thick swamp vegetation, we saw several baby-gators chillin’ in the sun. The captain “parked” the air boat so we could take tons of pictures. The tour also offered a view of some strange birds nesting in the high grass, and there were some beautiful flowers. And we experienced the roar of the totally non-silenced engine of the air boat, as the captain took her out to more open waters (air muffs were mandatory and were handed out before the ride started – free of charge. Thank you, captain!!).
The baby-gators are not easy to spot, but our captain had good eyes: “There’s one!” he yelled. A few minutes later he’d spotted another one (“Take a look to you right, ladies and gentlemen. Over there by the tree. Do you see it?”). Best captain ever.
Will we ever take another air boat ride? YES, WE WILL!!!