The word ‘safari’ usually conjures up images of trekking through Kenya in a rugged and dusty SUV in hot pursuit of big game. Similarly, Florida is often associated with sunshine holidays and beach pursuits. What many people don’t know is that Florida is also famous for its safaris.
These range from the more traditional safari featuring huge numbers of African animals through to more unusual safari experiences. If you’re planning a holiday to the Florida area, you may want to consider booking one of these more unusual safaris which will give you plenty to talk about when you return home.
Often referred to as eco-tours, alternative Florida safaris take visitors to the swamps where guides provide fascinating detail on the wildlife that passes by. Expect to see water buffalo and bison on dry land, along with wild pigs, ostriches and snakes. Alligators, turtles and all kinds of river life populate the swampy waters. Of course, you won’t be shooting any animals on this safari (unless it’s with your camera) but you will get very close to lots of animals in their natural habitats. For those with an adventurous palate, you may look forward to sampling some alligator delicacies during meals, including appetizers such as gator tails with swamp sauce.
Excitingly, these safaris don’t rely on SUVs to get around, instead, you will be ferried about in a swamp buggy or airboat. The Florida Everglades have featured in many famous films and the local airboats are a major attraction for many locals and visitors alike. Airboat flights through the Everglades are a perfect way to reach less accessible areas whether on land, sea or swamp and mean that you can have access to an even broader range of habitats.
For those without sea legs, it is also possible to go on a horseback safari so you can take in the scenery and wildlife at a much more relaxed pace. There are vast wildlife conservation areas that you can choose to ride through so that you can sample many different ecosystems. You don’t even need to be an experienced rider as the safari providers will carefully match riders to suitable horses.
If you’re feeling energetic and you have a head for heights, you may like to opt for a canopy cycle safari. Using an ingenious system of high wires through the trees, it is possible to pedal through the treetops on a specially adapted cycle. There is no need to worry about steering or balance as the high wire system takes care of this for you. You just need to apply a little pedal power in order to enjoy a unique bird’s eye view of the Florida fauna and flora.
Finally, if you prefer your safari to be a little more along traditional lines, Florida also provides opportunities to get close to lions, giraffes, rhinos, monkeys, snakes and birds. There are walking safaris where you can see these fascinating animals close up. However, if you really want the full safari experience you can choose a driving safari.
There are drive-through reserves which closely mimic regions such as the Kalahari Bush Veldt, the Serengeti Plains and the Gorongosa Reserve where you can witness huge carnivores which are free to roam. Don’t worry about getting a suitable vehicle as Car Hire in Florida will supply a rental car that will keep you cool, comfortable and safe during your adventure – you can even choose an SUV to replicate the African safari experience.
It is possible to undertake short trips, day trips or even full-on safaris with overnight accommodation provided. Depending on your personal preference, the accommodation can range from very basic camping, overnight dorms or more luxurious accommodation if you prefer comfort while adventuring. Many safaris provide overnight ‘chickees’ which are based on traditional African thatched-roof homes.
There are small chickees for couples and small families but there are also larger buildings designed to accommodate bigger groups and parties. Please note though that while these accommodation blocks provide beds, bedding and access to nearby shower facilities, there is usually no immediate access to water or power so you will need to take your own torch and drinks.