My fiancé and I have been wanting to make it to the Florida Everglades for quite a while now. The problem is it’s quite a drive from where we live and the Everglades are so huge we were a little intimidated by arranging our own day down there.
When I stumbled upon the Everglades Day Safari Tour, I knew it was perfect for us. The tour not only went all day long, but it included several different aspects; including two boat rides, a nature walk, and a scenic wildlife drive.
Our first stop of the day was a nature walk through Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk
The Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk is a 2,300 foot wooden boardwalk through the largest bald cypress/royal palm swamp in the world. One of my favorite things about the trail is that the entire path has informational signs about the plants, animals, and trees that call the swamp home.
The boardwalk is impeccably maintained. there was not a single loose or cracking board, and I was shocked to hear that all maintenance of the boardwalk is volunteer labor!
There were several interesting plants and trees, but this tree with another tree wrapped around it was by far my favorite.
The beautiful small pond at the end of the boardwalk was also a highlight for me.
There wasn’t a ton of animal sightings, but the few animals we did see were incredible, including this magnificent bald eagle.
At the very end of the walk we had a great sighting of this momma alligator floating along in the front pond with dozens of her babies close by on the shore.
After mating, a female alligator builds a nest of vegetation measuring as big as 10 feet in diameter and 3 feet high. A female alligator lays anywhere from 35 to 50 eggs, and some lay up to 90(!!!) This sounds like an insane amount of offspring, but as I learned, baby gators are very small and only grow to about 1 foot in length in their first year. Because of this about 80% of young gators become lunch or dinner to large birds, otters, snakes, and even other larger gators.
After the female alligator lays the eggs, she covers the nest with vegetation for the 65-day incubation period.
Interestingly enough, the sex of the baby alligators is determined by the temperature of the nest: above 93°F all are male, below 86°F all are female, and temperatures in between will produce both sexes.
This nature walk was a great way to kick off our tour. Next up, we headed for our boat cruise through the mangrove estuary known as the 10,000 islands. Stay tuned because you won’t want to miss what we got a chance to see!
Have you ever been on a nature walk?
note: I received a complimentary tour in exchange for my honest opinion. All opinions and pictures are completely my own.