I wanted to go where no car could take me, to see, touch and hear the everglades in it's real state. I wanted an adventure, but I wanted to feel safe. Having Tod as our private guide was all of that at an affordable price. He is warm, personable and knowledgeable. The first thing he said was that he would keep us safe from the alligators. He did. He knew their habits and their habitat.
Although I was quite familiar with a canoe I had never kayaked. I was afraid of swamping myself next to an alligator never to return. Tod gave easy instructions. Don't lean and if you run into the mangroves just push away. I got the hang of it quickly. It was easy and I ran into the mangroves many times without incident. Use your canoeing "j" stroke to steer.
My biggest fears out of the way, on to the adventure. Very close to the beginning of the entry point is a rookery. Take your time here. There is more than enough time for everything. There are so many varieties of birds all roosting in the same area. When we were there in May the little ones had crazy looking feathers sticking straight up from their heads with their big, bulging eyes. Blue herons and green herons. We were so close. The birds were not scared. This was the most awesome view.
We continued on. The long roots of the mangroves reflected in the water. It was hard to capture the beauty with the camera. Tod provides a waterproof box that you can put any of your valuables in for safe keeping. I started out with my camera in the box, but by the time we reached the rookery, I spent the rest of the experience with the camera around my neck snapping away gathering memories.
He showed us a place in the grass where a gator had gone in to make a nest. He's well informed and interesting. You can tell Tod likes people and he likes adventure. He used to produce a couple of reality TV shows. You can ask him about this yourself. In spite of his Hollywood work, he's humble, earthy and the nature type.
Tod knew it was our anniversary. He made this a special trip providing us with cut up melon and a bottle of champagne as we reached the clearing. We toasted to the sunset and relaxed in this calm, wide space to watch the sun go down and the sky light up.
We strapped on the headlamps and made our way back. Tod provided the headlamps, bug spray if needed and netting to wear over our heads. In the winter months there are no mosquitoes, in the summer months, there are many mosquitoes. We were there in mid season. We only had to wear the netting when going through the mangroves.
During the first set of mangroves that were wide and spacious I led. Tod led for the next two, shining a large spot well ahead giving the gators plenty of room to slip away before we arrived. We could see the glowing white eyes of spiders settling in for the evening. We paused in an open area looking up at the stars in one of the darkest areas in the US far away from city lights. It was spectacular.
We spotted one gator in the pitch dark, its eyes and snout illuminated by the spot light. Tod was able to keep it's attention as we got closer by making a clucking sound that the baby alligators make. It was a beautiful sight.
I felt extremely comfortable with Tod. He's flexible and accommodating. There's a customizable adventure for everyone. This is highly recommended privately guided tour into the wilderness.
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