Still more wilderness than most people realize as well as home to some of the world's most endangered animals, Florida
is the perfect place for ecotourism and nature tours.
Nobody else has the Everglades, the great sea of grass, and the first national park ever created to protect the animals and their habitat and not to preserve spectacular rock and forest formations.
The Everglades remain the home of two distinct Indian groups, the Seminoles and the Miccosukees, neither native to Florida but who moved to the Florida wilderness to escape European expansionism.
Seminole & Miccosukee Indian Tours
Do the Seminoles really wrestle alligators? They sure do. They started it in the 1920s as a tourist attraction. Not too many years ago a former Seminole chiefs lost a finger when he
got a little careless with his opponent. The Seminoles
also were also pioneers in airboat rides through the Everglades, which are now
truly different, educational and enjoyable, visit the first stop on
our list, Billie Swamp Safari. Spend a night or a weekend.
Billie Swamp Safari is located in the Big Cypress Reservation near Clewiston. This is something truly different--an authentic Seminole village that
features a restaurant with traditional and American-style food, Seminole
crafts and the opportunity to stay a night in a
native-style thatched chickee. It
The place is huge,
with 2,200 acres on the Big Cypress Seminole Reservation that include
the Florida panther, antelope, bison and southern razorback hogs.
Swamp buggy eco-tours and airboat rides along with reptile and alligator
exhibits and shows. Nearby are the Big Cypress Campground with RV and tent sites and cabins with A/C (800-437-4102).
Also the Ah-Tah-Thi-Ki Museum with the country's largest display
in the life and culture of the Florida Seminoles. Tel. 800-949-6101
or 863-983-6101. Website: www.seminoletribe.com/
safari. Billie Swamp Safari is one of my personal favorites and highly recommended. Put this on your list of things to do in January. The complex is closed but scheduled to reopen January 1, 2024
Everglades Tours: The Miccosukee tribe operates the
Miccosukee Indian Village, which features wildlife shows, native crafts
and cooking and high-speed airboat tours through the Glades. The restaurant
features traditional Miccosukee foods and Everglades specialties.
It is located 25 miles west west of the turnpike extension exit in Miami
on Hwy. 441. Open daily 9-5. Tel. 305-552-8365. See Miccosukee Tours
The Miccosukee Tribe also owns a big casino in the Everglades. The Seminoles own the Hard Rock franchise which includes casinos in the U.S. and restaurants around the world.
Everglades National Park's Flamingo Marina is where the park's main boat tours, kayak rentals and fishing skiffs are available.
Everglades National Park Tours: Tours are offered seasonally at three locations. The majority of tours are offered from December to April. It becomes too hot and buggy in the warm months for most visitors. This Tour Calendar has the dates for tours at Royal Palm and Flamingo in the Homestead section and at Shark Valley.
Everglades Ecotourism Near Miami You don't have to go deep into the Everglades to get a taste of it on these day trips.
Orlando Airboat Rides Even the world's theme park capital has nature tours into what technically are part of the Everglades' headwaters.
Manatees - Where to See Them Considered by some to be the basis of the mermaid legend, manatees are perhaps the only mammal with no natural enemies. Yet they remain threatened/endangered. Florida's clear fresh water springs are the best place in the world to see them.
Sea Turtle Walks Join an unforgettable walk and watching a nesting loggerhead sea turtle lay her eggs. Spots for these night walks held in June and July tend to fill up in May.