Of course when you first think of an Orlando vacation and your mind goes towards Parks, Rollercoasters, Diseny, Universal and Shopping. Well, there´s a lot more to do in the Orlando area. And for this article I´m going to talk a bit about something that is quite near. An hour drive away of around 50 miles to Kissimmee to do a nature trip for animals watching. And different to going to a zoo or something like that, you can see the animals in ther actually living habitat.
While on this trip you can take a good look at the local fauna, mainly birds and alligators; there are some others, but you will mostly see alligators and birds. Some Tortoises, some insects.
You will first arrive to the swamp shore, get your tour tickets and probably enjoy some minutes of silence looking at the swamp until your tour time. You can see in the pic that it is actually quite nice to be sitting there and watch the marvel of nature.
Once the tour is ready to go, you will meet your tour guide and step onto an airboat. Those from the Miami films where the cops chase the bad guys through a swamp? Those ones. You will get headsets because they are noisy and that way you can actually listen to what the guide is saying. My advice is to listen carefully to what the tourguide says. They have the trained eye and will detect animals where you wouldn´t, but once they pinpoint them to you, you´ll start seeing them.
Alligators are not like crocodiles and leave their victims to rot first, after their killings and only then eat them. That´s why they prefer smaller animals, because eating a cow is too much work for them. You will see cows in the water relaxing and not afraid of the gators.
If you see the pic below, you´ll also notice that when the Alligators have their mouths shut, teeth are not showing, so that´s another difference with African Crocodiles, or South American Yacares. They are very sneaky though and you may get a bit of a scare if they appear near you and you hadn´t seen them before. They don´t attack humans though, unless they are defending themselves or their kids.
A couple of tips:
- You will be away for at least half a day, with the whole 50 miles trip; so make sure you stock on snacks and water in your car.
- Listen to the tour guide. They know their stuff and they take care of safety.
- One thing to note, the Airboats are open and do not have seatbelts or anything like that so don´t move around.
- Use a camera handle that can be tied to your hand, if the camera (or phone) falls in the swamp you will not get it back.
- Tip generously. The Tour Guides are knowledgeable and will answer all your questions.
- The merchandising store is quite affordable. Most things are Alligator related. Some are very funny.
- If you go with kids, make sure they stay at all times safe inside the airboats. The Gators usually won´t attack and are not going to harm them but boy the fright they´d get will be huge anyways if someone falls from the airboat.
- You can take a look at prices and tour times at Kissimmee Swamp Tours. And I´m sure there are other companies that offer similar tours. This one is the one I went with and had a great time, so it has my seal of approval.
I hope this article helps you planning your vacations in Orlando Florida. Let me know in the comments section. Also, follow me on Twitter for more about Visiting Orlando.