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Everglades National Park

After having had sunshine in Florida Keys our next destination was Everglades National Park. Everglades National Park is made up of vast saw-grass prairies, deep mangrove swamps, subtropical jungle, and the warm waters of Florida Bay. Located on the southern tip of the Florida peninsula, the 1.5-million-acre park encompasses only about one-seventh of the area that comprises the entire Everglades. The sedge that lies dense and hardy under the Florida sun is seemingly endless, hence the name "Everglades." The older, Native American name for this area is Pahayokee, or "grassy waters."

We visited Everglades Alligator Farm and made airboat trip. Airboat slide took us through the endless river of grass. Very friendly guide helped us to discover the vast richness and variety of Florida’s native creatures. We saw many alligators during the boat ride. At first it seemed scary, but it was safe of course.

After the boat ride we also walked through the true working alligator farm. The Everglades Alligator Farm is home to about 2,000 alligators of all sizes. The smaller alligators are kept in grow out pens and the larger alligators are in natural settings called breeding ponds. It takes about 6 years for an alligator to start breeding. We had a chance to get know the lifecycle of alligators. Here we also enjoyed the exciting alligator wrestling and snake show. During the shows those who wanted got a chance to hold baby alligators and snakes, some of us tried this out. We all agreed that in Everglades Alligator Farm everybody can get unique and educational experience.

Near the Everglades we also visited Native American Indian village. The village was far from the highway, we drove about 50 miles away from highway, and on that road we did not see much driving. The weather worsened and dark clouds gathered together. Then we saw a true tropical rain. We had to stop the car, because it did not felt safe to drive. Having heard about tropical hurricanes in Gulf of Mexico, I was scared.

The rain ended as quickly as it has started and we were able to drive further towards Seminole Tribe Indian village. Locals offer the safari experience - Billy Swamp Safari. The Seminoles clearly understand the importance of their land and rich heritage. The idea of presenting a safari experience here on the Reservation was developed as many people traveled through our reservation looking for native village chickees and Indian culture, however, they could not find it. The people we met here were very friendly and modest. We understood they live very simple and happy lives. We also visited here the souvenir shop and had a dinner in Swamp Water Café. We did not try, but there is a possibility to sample Seminole specialties such as gator nuggets, frog legs, catfish, and fry bread with honey.