Deep down in Florida’s mosquito country lies the expansive wilderness of Everglades National Park. It is the third-largest national park in the lower 48 states after Death Valley and Yellowstone. This vast network of wetlands and forests is fed by a river flowing .25 miles per day out of Lake Okeechobee, southwest into Florida Bay.
We began by taking a guided tram-tour of Shark Valley, a 15-mile loop full of information and wildlife. Here we caught our first glimpse of Florida’s famous alligators, which are always black in color not the green that appears in cartoons. We saw a nest of baby alligators
In the evening we headed to the Gulf Coast, where we boarded a guided boat tour of the keys that make up the “Thousand Islands” area of the park.
The following day we headed south to Royal Palm, where the fabulous Anhinga Trail walks you through a wilderness teeming with turtles, anhingas, herons, egrets, and alligators close-enough to almost reach out and touch. We spent over an hour watching a Florida Egret fish with her child in a cat-and-mouse game with alligators that moved in closer a millimeter at a time. Afterward we drove to the “Flamingo” at the southern shoreline of the park in hopes of seeing some saltwater crocodiles, but we gave up our search before we could find any after the mosquitos began swarming.