A day on the swamp.
This was, by far, the most entertaining excursion yet. I had picked up their brochure in one of those brochure cases at the community building, and it sounded intriguing, so I called for info. At the time I called, there were no trips booked – they needed more than one person - so I gave them my info and which days I would prefer. As luck would have it, they called me Saturday morning to let me know they had a trip scheduled that same afternoon. So away I went.
If anybody’s looking on a map, it was on Lake Kissimmee, about 40 miles directly south of Orlando.
Once again, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking (okay everyone, let’s breathe a collective sigh of relief!). HOWEVER, I’ll just try to bullet the main points of interest, as best as my memory will allow. What set this tour aside from the others is that it is actually narrated, and is more informative than just a boat ride. We all wore head sets, and had a walkie talkie with microphone with which we could ask questions.
• Lake Kissimmee is over 36,000 acres, but is no more than 12 feet.
• Our 90 minute tour would take us across waters that would range from 2” to 3 feet deep.
• The airboat we were riding in has no reverse, and no neutral. Of course, here’s where the guide tells us that if we fall off, just stand up, because of the water depth.
• The water level in the lake is actually controlled by flood/water gates, and the highest the lake would ever be is about 1 ½ feet higher than it was today.
• As you look at the pictures, the lake bottom is mushy where you see lily pads, and more sandy where you see the grasses.
• We did see an eagles nest, with Momma present, but it was a ways away.
• According to the guide, the only place that has more eagles than here is Alaska. Whether that’s true or not, I have no idea.
• Obviously, one of the main tour attractions are the gators, of which there are a million and a half in this lake. We toured only a small portion of the edge of the lake, and saw several – both adults and babies.
• The largest we saw was “Bubba” – about 16 feet long. The smallest were the babies – about 18”.
• An adult gator has a vertical jump reach of 6 feet, and it can run up to 35 mph.
• In terms of their eating habits, a gator swallows their food whole, while a crocodile chews his.
• This lake only has gators. The crocs are down in the Everglades.
• A Momma gator will have a batch of up to 30 little gators at a time. But only about 1 in 10 will survive – primarily due to natural predators.
• We were able to see a number of adult gators on the tour; however, during the summer months, the large male gators go to the center of the lake where it is cooler, leaving the momma behind to take care of the nest.
• We were all surprised to learn that there are swamp rabbits out here – see photo. There was hardly any land out there, but there they were. Apparently, these guys do swim.
• In addition to the gators, we saw several species of ducks and waterfowl, a Sandhill crane (and nest), a snake, fish and swamp turtles.
• All new gators come into the world during the first 2 weeks of September, and momma only has a 2 month gestation period.
Again, what was nice about this tour, was that we really took our time going along the edge of the lake, and were actually looking for wildlife, rather than just zooming through it. When we got to “Bubba”, we stopped there for about 10 minutes with the engine off, just listening, looking and chatting about things on the swamp – all the while keeping an eye on “Bubba”.
There were also RV camping spots at this location, so if anyone ever wants to go there…………..And it is a premier bass fishing lake.
And yes, I would recommend this to anyone.