Everglades visit fun, educational for families
SHARK VALLEY, Fla.— The Everglades is actually a very slow moving river that is made up of 80 percent grass and water. The rest of the area is land that was once inhabited by Indian tribes. The two main tribes of the area were the Calusa and the Tequesta tribes.
In the 16th Century, the Spanish caused both of the tribes to leave the area.
In the 18th Century the U.S. military then took control of the area and not long after they decided to keep part of it as a national park, because you could not build there and it actually had a very interesting eco-system.
|Click on the video at right to see an audio slideshow of Everglades National Park photographed and narrated by writer Katri Paasikoski.|
These days many families come to the Everglades on days out because it is fun and educational for the children and parents.
The Everglades are famous worldwide for having alligators all around the area, and many other dangerous animals such as snakes making the trip exciting and different to many other scientific days out.
Many companies take this opportunity to show tourists how interesting the Everglades are and how fun it can be. Many organise family tours such as the one that I went on.
Everglades Safari Park sign seen from U.S. 41 (Photos by Katri Paasikoski).
On the day I was in the Everglades, the main groups of tourists that I saw were families. The children really seemed genuinely keen about the visit and interested in learning about the park. To them, the alligators were the real stars of the day’s sight-seeing.
The Everglades Safari Park, a commercial operation located just outside the Everglades National Park, organized a day tour, which consisted of an airboat ride for about 40 minutes that went through the national park, where we were shown the swampy areas where we learned about the sawgrass and many of the local birds as well as some of the history of the Everglades. The airboat itself is a lot of fun because it glides over the water so easily and it is so loud that you have to wear earplugs the entire time.
|The airboats were lined up at the entrance of the park.|
It is also a lot of fun because you can almost make your own path. Our guide was driving us straight through areas of sawgrass while hoping to spot some alligators.
During the ride, we also got some information about the different animals living in the area. Many of us were surprised to learn that bobcats, deer and even bears occupy the area.
We visited a small island, once occupied by the local Miccosukee Indian tribe. Today it serves as an exhibit of the lives once lived by the Indians and who now live in modern homes nearby.
After the airboat ride, we went to an alligator wildlife show where one of the guides, Jeff, was able to teach us about the alligators first hand.
“The alligators are not trained or tamed or drugged,” he told us.
|The airboat ride travels straight through the sawgrass, which provides excellent views of the Everglades.|
My guide had personally been bitten five times by some of alligators that he was working with. The only reason he was able to be so close to them and hold them was because they recognized his smell and there was trust because, he told us, they had “worked together for a long time.”
When the show finished, we were then given the opportunity to hold a two-year-old alligator and get our picture taken with it. This was very exciting for many of the children in the audience as well as for most of the adults. My sister held the baby alligator nervously as they posed for the camera. She said it was “awesome and it felt soft and not like a turtle at all.”
|Guide Jeff with my sister holding Snappy, a baby alligator.|
We were then led through the jungle walking trail and our guide taught us some of the history of the area as well as helped us to spot the wildlife. The alligators in the park are fearless and seem to be very calm around humans.
After that, you can visit the restaurant and souvenir shop. The restaurant serves some very interesting food that the kids probably won’t want to eat such as frog legs and gator bites. My family, however, braved everything and it was delicious.
It was a great end to a really fun morning.
|Guide Jeff feeding and playing with the alligator named Killer.|
“There was nothing disappointing about the trip,” said my sister, Maiju Paasikoski.
My other sister, Nelli Paasikoski, really enjoyed the visit.
“They gave us a lot of information, which was great, and it was so cool how close we were able to get to the alligators,” she explained.
The Everglades are definitely a good day outdoors for the family.
If You Go
Address: 26700 Tamiami Trail. Miami, Fla.