Apr 30, 2019


"There are no other Everglades in the world"- Marjory Stoneman Douglas.

Everglades is one of the largest tropical wilderness found in the USA. This is one of the parks where you can get up close views of manatees, alligators, crocodiles and various species of birds that visit during the warm winters. 

 Things to remember :

1.) Dry season: This lasts between November - March.
Better chance of seeing a variety of birds and predators, wildlife
2.) Wet season: April to November.
Buggy and chance of storms are inevitable.
Many ranger programs are closed. Check the NPS Everglades website here for latest information.
3.) Get a pair of binoculars. Your kids will thank you!
4.) Check for closures on the NPS website as they are regularly updated with latest information.
5.) Carry sunscreen

How did we cover Everglades?

We had 1 1/2 day here. The first half we spent at Coopertown. We went on an airboat excursion to see the reptiles and natural surroundings.

There are 3 areas to cover at Everglades.
- North Entrance covering Shark Valley and Gulf Coast covering Everglades City
-South Entrance covers Royal Palms at Homestead covering the Anhinga trail and Gumbo Limbo trail.
It also covers Flamingo which is 38 miles into the south park which ends at the Florida Bay.
- The 3rd entrance is via the Florida Bay to explore the gulf coast.

We visited Everglades in November and if I distinctly remember the Shark Valley tram tours were not operational. This would probably have been a great experience. If you do get a chance go when the tours are operational. Here is the link.  Reservations are needed specially from November to April and it is about a 2 1/2 hour tour. 

What will you see:
Estuaries, freshwater marshlands, mangroves,sloughs, tropical hammocks, cypress trees and coastal mainlands along with reptiles and animals like alligators, manatees, egrets, are some of what you can expect to see.

Ernest F. Coe visitor Centre is a good place to start. Pick up a map here. The rangers guided us as to the best spots for seeing wildlife and advised us of some areas that were closed. This is the southern area in Everglades NP.

1. Anhinga Trail:
Anhinga Trail

- About 4 miles from the visitor centre is Anhinga Trail. It is a short 0.8 mi trail. If you have time do the ranger hike. We managed to catch up with one that had just started. Going with a ranger is the best education you will ever get. They were so knowledgeable and answered questions that the kids and little ones had. It had a small loop and a boardwalk over the Taylor Slough. We heard alligators nearby growling The seemed to be very near to us but due to the thick dense habitat we had to settle with just hearing them. There were cormorants, Tricolored heron and great egrets on the trail and a vast area of lily pads in the water.
The trail was stroller friendly. It was scorching that day. Thank goodness for the hats.

- Gumbo Limbo trail was closed due to flooding when we visited.

2. Mahogany Hammock:

We wanted to make sure we did not miss out on anything. So we made a quick stop here. It was a short boardwalk which had a lot of mahogany trees just like how the name of the stop was. The place was humid as there wasn't a lot of air circulation due to the thick vegetation. The loop was short however there was a lot to learn on the trail.

Gumbo Limbo tree
The gumbo limbo tree is one of the most hurricane resistant tree in the area.

Nurse Log
The nurse logs are trees that continue to support the plants and animals. Mammals and incubating animals live inside the fallen logs. Plants absorb the stored moisture along with the nutrients. Evern after total decomposition, the trees essence live on in the plants that grow from the nutrients left behind. So interesting. Read this on one of the informational details on the trail. 

4. West Lake Trail:

New growth at mangroves
This was a short boardwalk which had a thick mangled mangrove. There was nothing much to see here except for the mangroves which I saw for the first time at a close distance. At the end of boardwalk was the West Lake. There were three types of mangroves white, red and black. The mangroves thrive in salty, soggy, oxygen poor places with tropical weather. The area was filled with a bad stench. So we hurriedly moved to the next destination. 

5. Flamingo Visitor Centre:

This was almost about 35 miles from the Ernest Coe visitor centre. There were manatees flipping and swimming in the river nearby. A few crocodiles were basking in the sun and there were some in the water. There was a marina and a kayak rental. We clicked some pics of the reptiles and the sea animals and moved on to our next destination NASA.

Manatee in the water


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