My brother and I wanted to do a camping and kayak trip at the same time while getting to see the everglades. Our trip was out of Everglades city and mostly comprised of kayaking in mangrove channels and the Gulf of Mexico. Our guide was Brandon Gunderson. The food was probably the most surprising part of the trip as Brandon could cook up some very flavorful dinners. During our trip we had lunch on the white sand beaches of islands comprised of mangrove and palm trees. Forty five minutes into the trip we were seeing dolphins and sea turtles and mullets flying out of the water three feet into the air. The first night we slept on a wooden platform above the water in the mangrove channel.
The most memorable moments were kayaking through what felt like a tunnel of mangrove trees, paddling with dolphins and sea turtles and camping on Pavilion Key. The mangrove tree tunnel was amazing as the water was shallow and the paddling was exciting as it was a race against the tides. The mangroves covered the us with shade from the sun and made us feel as if we were engulfed in the environment. During our second day we paddled out of the mangroves and into the Gulf towards our second night stay on Pavilion Key. During that paddle we saw approx sixteen dolphins at once. They were all around us and stayed with us for almost an hour as we made our way towards our destination. Once at Pavilion Key we were able to relax and enjoy the island environment. The wildlife was amazing. From horseshoe crabs, lizards and migratory bird species on the beach to conchs, crabs, sea cucumbers, sea anemones in the mud flats during low tide it was a nature lovers dream. There were many species of birds including ospreys, great blue herons, pelicans, cormorants and ibis to name a few. Camping out on the beach was the most fun as we had a camp fire from gathered drift wood and lounged in our air mattress chairs.
Our guide was very knowledgeable of the history, wildlife and environment. My brother and I felt safe going out with me as he knew the area well and had a lot of experience in sea kayaking. The company and our guide were very helpful in making our trip happen. They worked with us on the trip details and their customer service was great as they are very friendly. My brother and I are in our mid twenties and did not have a lot of kayak experience but are athletic and wanted to see as much as we could so we did more miles than the website 3 day tour accounted for. The paddling was difficult at times, more so going against the tides or the wind. Brandon did a good job of charting out our trip so we could go with the tides as much as possible. This trip would be good for families as well but it is good to be in shape as the paddling can be for a while. The paddling is the part where you see a lot and is well worth the effort. If you enjoy seeing some great things and don't mind some physical activity this is an excellent trip for the nature lover/adventure seeker. The kayaks are perfect for making you feel like you are a part of the environment.
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