EVERGLADES: between gators and fruit stands

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Located in the Southern part of the state of Florida, Everglades National Park is the home of strangely looking birds and lots of alligators. The contrast between the Florida Keys (where we came from) and Everglades National Park is immense. You will leave a tropical paradise and enter the wilderness.

First stop: Anhinga trail, close to the Royal Palm Visitors Center. This rather boring trail leads you over wooden constructions, offers beautiful views and is okay as a first impression of the ecosystem of The Everglades.  But if you’re looking for a thrill, even tea time at the old folks place probably gets you more excitement than the Anhinga Trail.

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So why visit this part of the Everglades? Because if you come from the Florida Keys, Homestead is the perfect place to crash for the night. We’re talking cheap motels & good quality (if you stay away from the Ramada!). We highly recommend Travellodge Florida City, which offers great value for a small price: think huge rooms, clean as a whistle and the staff is genuinely friendly. If you’re in the neighborhood, stop for a juice at Robert is Here. Not only will you sip on one of the best freshly pressed juices of your life (all combos possible), you’ll be able to feast your eyes on all the bizarre items in the supermarket (roadkill BBQ sauce, anyone?)

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After a good night’s sleep, we left early to start the Tamiami Trail. Along this road, the Everglades reveal their true beauty. This trail crosses Florida from the east coast to west coast and surprisingly enough also the other way around. At one hour by car from Homestead, Shark Valley Loop offers you the possibility to take a tram, including ‘funny’ guide to discover the 15-mile loop, or you can just be a man, rent a bike and find your way between the gators and turtles on two wheels. Don’t be afraid, the gators are lazier than a house cat on a Sunday morning  and the turtles are friendly and up for a chat. Halfway the loop, the Observation Tower offers you stunning views.
We must warn you though… there are three kinds of poisonous snakes in the park. We met one at the end of the trail and Christophe almost ran over it. It felt threatened and attacked. Lucky for us, we were a whole lot quicker than our slippery friend.

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Along the Tamiami Trail you’ll find lots of airboat tours to book. Because they bring harm to nature, we didn’t take one, but hey, we’re not holier than the pope… so if you want to feel the wind in your hair and the noise in your ears, go and have the time of your life.

Stay tuned for the next episode of our trip, where we visit Naples & Sanibel.

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