good food + awesome travel & occasional odd bits

Florida Everglades

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Best known for its over the top theme parks, Orlando is definitely a top tourist destination. We landed here not for Disney- related anything, but rather for a much anticipated trip through the everglades to experience amazing wildlife- gators, water moccasins, and more birds than you can shake a stick at. Here we go!

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Ritz Carlton Hotel

4012 Central Florida Pkwy/Orlando

First things first, one must be comfortable and the Ritz certainly delivered. This is the photo of the calm before the storm. When we arrived, we were able to enjoy a quiet cocktail in the lobby and then, bam! The next day, all of the tourists descended and it was a mad house, especially by the pool. Luckily, there’s always the room balcony to retreat to for some quieter R&R. From Orlando it’s just a short 30 minute or less drive to the take off spot for the swamp tour.

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Spirit of the Swamp

/website/

Forget Disney. Ditch Universal . Instead, reserve a spot in advance for a tour of the Everglades. I highly recommend going with Spirit of the Swamp’s 2 hour airboat tour. The airboat sat 5 plus the captain so it was just us and another couple. Our captain was friendly, knowledgeable, and above all he was accommodating. The tour included a short stop on Makinson Island where we saw wild boar tracks and a plethora of Spanish moss-covered trees with cicadas buzzing in the distance. Of course, the most exciting part of the tour was seeing alligators in their natural habitat. If you’re lucky, you might also see giant snails laying clusters of pink eggs on the rocks, great blue herron, eagles, turtles, and an abundance of birds large and small. Here’s what we saw:

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Photos:

/1/view of the Everglades, /2/crane in flight, /3/first alligator spotting!, /4/Great Egret, /5/water lilies and lily pads blooming in the afternoon, /6/lotus flower, /7/purple flowers, /8/large gator in the distance, /9/Florida’s Sandhill Crane, /10/on Makinson Island, /11/Great Blue Herron, /12/more Sandhill Cranes, /13/Apple Snail shells, /14/cluster of Apple Snail eggs

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