Canoe Camping at 10,000 Islands, the Everglades
The best way to experience the serenity and beauty of the Everglades, which are at once stark and lush, tropical yet haunting, is to canoe or kayak through the excellent network of waterways that line the northwest from the park. The 10,000 Islands consist of many (but not really 10,000) tiny islands and a mangrove swamp that hugs Florida’s most southwestern border. The Wilderness Waterway, a 99-mile trail between Everglades City and Flamingo, is the longest canoe trail in the area, but there are shorter trails near Flamingo.
Most of the islands are bordered by narrow beaches with white sand beaches, but be aware that the water is brackish, not clear, and very shallow most of the time. It’s not Tahiti, but it’s fascinating. The best part is that you can camp on your own island for up to a week.
Getting around the 10,000 islands is fairly straightforward if you religiously adhere to NOAA nautical and tide charts. Going against the grain is the quickest way to make it a miserable ride. The Gulf Coast Visitor Center sells nautical charts and gives out free tide charts. You can also purchase letters in advance of your visit: call 305-247-1216 and ask for letters #11430, 11432, and 11433.
Parrot Jungle Island, Miami
Parrot Jungle (305-666-7834; 1111 Parrot Jungle Trail, off I-396/MacArthur Causeway; adult/child $24.95/19.95; 10 yrs. strip of land between South Beach and downtown Miami, has been become a much more elegant place to visit.
Their new 18-acre waterfront facility, planted and landscaped with minimal pesticides and solidified with 27,000 tons of structural fill, is now the proud home of parrots, macaws, flamingos, and cockatoos in endless varieties, some caged but many flying out into the open. fresh air. aviaries that simulate their natural environments. You can watch the birds, talk to and feed them, or sit back and be entertained in one of the stage areas (where trained birds chat and, unfortunately, dance for the audience).
Other creatures include snakes, crocodiles, gibbons and orangutans, creating a mini zoo that children especially enjoy. Hallways are covered (from both rain and bird droppings), and indoor dining, gaming, and shopping areas provide great shelter from storms. Parking is available for $6.
Everglades National Park, The Everglades
The only subtropical preserve in North America, this park is filled with an impressive variety of environments and creatures: temperate and tropical plants, marine life, and wading birds. Plus, it’s the only place on earth where alligators (which prefer fresh water) live side by side. The three park entrances allow you to choose the type of experience you’d like to have, whether it’s walking to the end of a wooden gazebo to watch the sunset, biking along marshy floating land, or kayaking. from island to island until you find the best place to set up camp for the night.
There are three main entrances to the park: one along the southeastern edge near Honesty and Florida City (Ernest Coe), one on the north-central side of the Tamiami Trail (Shark Valley), and a third on the beautiful northwest coast (Gulf Coast ), beyond Everglades City. From the Coe entrance, follow Highway 9336 to Flamingo, a visitor area that offers everything from boat tours to a hostel and restaurant. Shark Valley is where you’ll find the convenient trolley tour, while the Gulf Coast region is the least developed and geared toward campers and kayakers.
Author: Kenneth Ng