A swamp walk has been on our priority list ever since Paul and I watched a video presentation in the Everglades two years ago. Disappointed we didn't get to it on our trip to Florida last year, we made the necessary arrangements and set out last Thursday for the Everglades. What did we need for this excursion? Reservations with a tour guide, our walking sticks, old tennis shoes and long sleeved shirts and pants. Oh, and a "spirit of adventure."
Venice was a two hour drive from our destination.
We met our tour guide, a naturalist named John with a doctorate in plant pathology, at a quirky little store in Chokoloskee, just south of Everglades City. From there, we drove to the Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, known as the "Amazon of the North."
John was an excellent tour guide for us. He left no stone (or log, for that matter) unturned. We made numerous stops as we drove to the swamp to look and learn about native species,
and reptilian. Below is a glass snake, a legless lizard we saw on the road. The last 18 inches of this creature can break off, thus the glass reference, and continue wriggling as the little guy scurries away from its predator. Amazing!
We eventually found our way to the entry point to the swamp walk. Our tour guide knew he had us hooked and we slid in without hesitation.
The swamp forest in the Fakahatchee Strand is fed by freshwater. I never once thought, "there is no way I am walking though there" during the entire walk.
Within minutes of stepping into the swamp, we watched this egret catch and eat a crayfish.
John pointed out many interesting points along the way. We learned to watch for these snail eggs.
He would have us stand and turn 360º and point out as many orchids as we could see. As we learned, Paul became excellent at locating them. No surprise!
I can't describe the beauty
or the peace we experienced.
It was cool and quiet. Because the water was moving and therefore not stagnant, there was an absence of mosquitoes.
We were continually amazed and John was an inspiring teacher.
We both knew before we were done we would be back.
And, to top off our experience, we watched a panther on the road back out of the swamp. We were at a safe distance and too far away for pictures, but it was an incredible moment nonetheless.
Our tennis shoes and socks were REALLY dirty!!!
We'll talk to you soon.