Seeing a bull alligator is never an everyday occurrence especially if you live in the city or in the mountain areas. So when one comes slinking through the waters of the Big Cypress National Preserve swamps, we can’t blame you if you’d feel a little shaky. But not to worry, gators here are used to seeing people, they very rarely attack them, especially in mating season, when it’s got other things in its mind.

That’s just one of the myriad of journeys you’ll get to experience you can enjoy in an excursion through the Everglades. Here, a local guide can take you on a boat using a long pole to navigate through the pristine swamps of the area. This kind of transportation has been vital in the Everglades in the years past.

This area is the 38-acre Trail Lakes Campground on the south side of U.S. 41 in the village of Ochopee is just 40 miles from downtown Naples. Save for a very tiny post office no more than the size of a tool shed, which is actually the tiniest post office in the United States, the place doesn’t have much of the look of an actual village but it is the center of the much needed eco-diversity in the region, if not in the entire state.

The camp property started out in 1962. The place was first operated by a pioneering generation of swamp guides. Everglades’s communities are comprised of families that have lived near the world-famous ecosystem for several generations or more. They live off the land by fishing and hunting, sometimes looking for frogs which are a favorite delicacy. They love a good spinning of the yarn — telling and listening. Everglades’s dwellers give much importance to family and neighbors, but friendly to visitors.

We see a white-tail deer, turtles, and several alligators — but also abundant local plant life like leafless orchids, pond apples, string lilies, and the exposed roots of cypress trees that look like bleached bones. Occasionally, a lone white flower stands solitarily in the midst of the lush fields of green.

We dive through mangrove canopies and notice that the temperature got a little bit cooler. A brief light rain made it even colder. Everything started smelling fresh and alive.

A tour of merely a few hours on the Everglades eco-tour amounts to a very pleasant experience on all the senses. The experience all but forces you to take time with your breathing, loosen your limbs, and bat away the toxic thoughts brought about by the city life. It’s easy to enter into a state of calm and pure enlightenment.

Everglades Adventure Tours is all about offering low-impact eco-tours and existing side-by-side with wildlife in their natural homes. Boats and humans are guests, and they are all received with the warmest of welcomes here in this wild and exciting region, provided these visitors know how to respect the nature that surrounds them. These swamps are the cradle to everything the region holds dear and it’s everyone’s duty to take good care of it.

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