Everglades National Park – a day amongst alligators

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Everglades National Park – a day amongst alligators

The Everglades National Park was one of the places that Ruth had been talking about for a while, so I knew that if for any reason we didn’t go there she would be frustrated. She was very excited and curious to see Noah’s reaction when he saw those scary animals and their huge jaws.

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We almost had to cancel our visit to the park. We got the tickets via a very nice offer on Groupon ($35 for both of us, and Noah went free as he is under 5 years old), but the only day available was our last day before travelling to Orlando.

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The problem is that we were still deciding how to get to Orlando and we thought we would probably take a bus or a plane. But then, once again, we found another very good offer from Rentalcars and we booked a cheap hire car to be picked up in Boca Raton (where we were spending a few days with some friends) and dropped off at Orlando Airport. Everything therefore worked well for us to visit the park and enjoy an entertaining afternoon surrounded by alligators and crocodiles.

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A bit about Everglades National Park

This huge national park is located in Florida and each year it attracts thousands of tourists wanting to discover a bit more about the nature and animals that live there.

The park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site as well as an International Biosphere Reserve. When Ruth was researching it, those were fundamental things which put it on our list of places to visit. Indeed, the pictures and videos that we saw showed a little bit of what we were about to see today.

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It is an amazing landscape that is home to several endangered and rare species, such as manatees (we should see them later this week, near Orlando), the American crocodile and the Florida panther.

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This huge natural wilderness of Everglades National Park gives tourists many ways to enjoy it and explore, with several companies offering tours through the park and along the rivers that cross it.

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Our tour with Everglades Safari Park

As we mentioned above, we got an offer from Groupon and paid about $10 less than we would normally have paid for the full tour. In fact, we paid $35, the normal price for a couple is $50 (online you can save up to $6 per couple). It was therefore a good deal for a totally worthwhile visit.

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As it was an offer we didn’t choose the company, but the reviews were quite good so we were not concerned.

From our location – Boca Raton – we drove for just over an hour, whereas from Miami it would’ve been around 30 minutes.

We arrived at a good time – just after 3pm. The weather was not as hot as it was at lunch time, there was a fresh breeze and not too many tourists. Probably in the morning tours would be quite full, but also being a weekday made a difference.

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Family Travel Secret
There is a lot to consider when coming. First of all, Florida is hot! So if you're taking the tour in the summer, it is recommended to do it early in the morning or late in the afternoon. It is also best to go during the week, so there are not so many tourists and the wait will not be too long, and always search for vouchers for discounts.

 

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Once we got to Everglades National Park we had to wait a bit for the next available boat, but it wasn’t for long and we had some time to check out the gift shop.

It was pretty cool to go on one of those airboats. The boat trip takes about 30 minutes and goes through the middle of the river, where we were supposed to spot some alligators and crocodiles.

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Family Travel Secret
Although very cool, the boats at Everglades National Park are very noisy so the guides give all tourists a pair of earplugs to reduce the noise. Noah didn't like the noise at all and didn't enjoy the trip to begin with. After he got used to the noise everything was fine.

 

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Unfortunately, the weather was not the best to see a lot of them, but we spotted 2 or 3 during the ride.

Family Travel Secret
Alligators enjoy the hot weather – Florida is ideal for that – but they prefer it when it isn't too windy. When it is a bit breezy, like when we visited the park, they don’t show up so easily. They also tend to be hidden behind small coves of plants.

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Although it lasted 30-40 minutes, time flew by very quickly and almost at the end of the trip we were able to see one alligator that was completely unaware of the fact that the boat was very close. He crossed the river very slowly, taking his time … Lazy animals (and scary too).

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The alligator show at Everglades Safari Park

After the airboat ride at Everglades National Park, tourists are invited to watch a show with alligators where the guide talks a bit about them and their habitat, and we even got the chance to touch a baby alligator.

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The show is great and the guide is inside their enclosure, as if they were the most docile species. They didn’t even react at all during the whole time the guide was talking next to them.

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Then he came around all the visitors with a baby alligator and offered the chance to take a picture holding him. Noah really liked touching his skin and having his picture taken, but of course he was so brave because it was a baby one. I’m sure if the picture was with an adult one he wouldn’t have been so brave … Neither would we  🙂

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That was the end of a very entertaining afternoon in the wilderness of the Everglades National Park. If anyone asks, we would totally recommend a visit to the park and specifically with Everglades Safari Park, not just for the airboat trip or the show but also to explore a bit more of what this amazing park has to offer to those who love nature.

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Next stop, Orlando!

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