Saturday, April 17, 2010

Airboating Past South Florida Swamp Critters

I will admit that I have always found airboats to be extremely annoying when I have been out and around them. They are loud, create disturbances in the wildlife, create undesired waves, and so forth. Our boating methods have been kayaks and canoes ---and they don’t mix so well with airboats.

However, I can see how they have their uses and one of them can be giving nature tours on private land where the canals were designed for that purpose.

Since neither B or I had ever been on an airboat, my sister suggested a place where we could have that little adventure on the way back up the state. It is on Seminole land south of Lake Okeechobee and called Billie Swamp Safari. They also have swamp buggy rides that looked like fun, too. They are truly in the middle of nowhere.

This is what our airboat looked like. There were plenty of gators to see. We felt very secure and stable. Probably half the time we were sort of coasting. The wildlife seemed to be totally accustomed to the boats.


This was our driver, who did not appear to have Seminole lineage. He was entertaining, knowledgeable and skilled with the boat.


What self-respecting Indian reservation would be without buffalo, also known as bison? These crossed the canal in front of us.



We were told this little guy was two day's old.


There were Florida cracker cows, that trace their lineage back to Spain and have been around since the 1500’s.


And wild pigs a-plenty!


With lots of little piglets.



It was a fun tour.

While we were at Key Largo, we saw these signs.

Croc Sign

We had heard that there were native crocodiles that lived in the mangroves there where just the right combination of salt and fresh water mixed. We looked, as we drove.

I had spotted this place on the map there and our last evening, we went to find it. It was closed (after 5:00) but there did not appear to be any access for the public anyway. There had been unpaved roads from the highway, but they had all been deliberately blocked with large boulders and there were signs that the area was closed. Perhaps the public is not be trusted with crocodiles?


So seeing this crocodile in with the alligators in a pen at the airboat place, was all I got.


The tail doesn’t tell the tale: the very pointy snout is the key identifier to distinguishing them from gators. Well, until we get to their teeth----and that is something I’m glad I know little about!

Our little spring break trip was a wonderful experience!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you for including Billie Swamp Safari in your plans. We truly appreciate it and hope to welcome you back again soon!

Cindy Malin
Billie Swamp Safari