The Everglades, Miami
Spanning the southern tip of the Florida peninsula and most of Florida Bay, Everglades National Park is the only subtropical preserve in North America. It contains both temperate and tropical plant communities, including sawgrass prairies, mangrove and cypress swamps, pinelands, and hardwood hammocks, as well as marine and estuarine environments. The park is known for its rich bird life, particularly large wading birds, such as the roseate spoonbill, wood stork, great blue heron and a variety of egrets. It is also the only place in the world where alligators and crocodiles exist side by side.
Everglades National Park has been designated a World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve, and a Wetland of International Importance.
I don't think most people realize that the Florida Everglades is very close to the city of Miami. My tour through MiamiNice.com was to Coopertown Air Boat Rides which is only 11 miles west of Florida Turnpike on U.S. 41. The airboat ride there into the Everglades was simply out of this world.
An airboat ride is the way to see Everglades National Park. These passenger boats zoom in between the marshy areas, stopping to look for crocodiles along the way. Its an entertaining tour and the guides provide a great deal of information on the unusual ecosystem of the Everglades. See my Everglades National Park page for more information.
The Everglades is where you can see most of the wildlife in South Florida in its natural habitat. You can ride the airboats or even bike ride on a bike trail along a swamp (alligators gallore)! I've been many times, quite safe, the only problem might be if an alligators decides to cross from one side of the swamp to the other and halfway there decides to sunbathe... but all you do there is make a u-turn and head back to the beginning.
One very important tip, if an alligator were to chase you, run in zig zag .
If you get a chance, do a tour of the Everglades. I was surprised how close they are to Miami. It's merely an hour or so by road.
You get to go on a very noisy boat which looks like a hovercraft and you will skim along the water to explore the wildlife. Alligators, birds, etc, are in abundance!
The tour also includes a talk about their "friendly" alligators, which was groovy.
I managed to even get to hold a little alligator! He was a friendly chap, and I didn't get bitten.
It is amazing the amount of wildlife we saw every time our airboat stopped to view an animal. We saw several alligators including a nest of babies. This sweet softshell turtle approached our airboat as we were watching the alligators!
Visit the MICCOSUKEE INDIAN VILLAGE, home of the 500-strong Miccosukee Indian tribe. Originally part of the Seminole Tribe, the Miccosukees took to the Everglades to hide in order to avoid being forcibly resettled in the American West during the nineteenth-century Indian Wars. They maintained an independent lifestyle, living in thatched buildings known as 'chickees' and moving about the swamps to hunt and trade with one another using dugout canoes made from hollowed-out cypress logs. Only with the construction of the Tamiami Trail Highway, which began in the 1930s, did the Miccosukees begin to come in contact with the modern world..... Tel.: (305) 223 - 8380.... (More photos coming soon, but for now -- here is one of me trying on an Indian headdress for size, about to have my head cut off!)
Here are some more photos of the alligators and myself holding one. It's all part of the tour, which takes around 5 hours (which includes travel time to/from the Everglades).