If you are taking a trip to Florida then why not stop by the Florida Wetlands and make pals with some alligators. There are several alligator reservoirs dotted along the road from Miami to Key West and some of the more ramshackle reservoirs make for the most interesting locals you’ll ever meet. If you can hold your nerve you will be invited to hold a baby alligator, usually, their mouths are loosely bound to avoid their powerful jaw munching through your arm, and you will think you are very brave until you see the adults.
Most reservoirs have a number of large adult alligators sectioned off but still in very close proximity to tourists and travellers, giving you the opportunity to examine their thick ribbed skin and scales in prehistoric awe. The main reason to visit a reservoir is to embark on an airboat and be sped into the wetlands but not before some slow boating through the water channels to spot some alligators in their natural habitat. These majestic creatures with their beady eyes darting just above the water level can move quicker than you expect and glide effortlessly through the water as if they do not weigh up to 230kg.
Once you’ve spotted a few alligators, who can sometimes be elusive it is time to strap up and speed through the reeds of the wetland powered by an enormous fan which may be the noisiest thing you’ve ever had to sit next to. After some high-adrenaline driving and depending on the reservoir you visit you are given the opportunity to step into the wetlands which are surprisingly shallow, only to knee level. You will enjoy the comfort of the warm water and how calm it is between the reeds surrounded by nature until you remember you are sharing the water with alligators who could show up at any time.
During the experience, your guide will give you details of the diet, lifestyle and other interesting facts about the alligator species demonstrating that for most reservoir staff alligators are a passion not just a tourist attraction. Some reservoirs do offer shows in which you can assist in the feeding of alligators or see tricks etc, if this is not your preference then TripAdvisor some of the reservoirs along your journey so you know which ones you skip.
Most reservoirs work towards protecting the future of alligators in their natural habitat and limit the access of poachers. The money you pay which is usually in the region of $25pp will go towards the protection of this incredible creature. You might be surprised to see many taxidermy alligators and alligator skulls adorning restaurants and rest-stops in this area even in close proximity to the reservoirs and this may inspire you to visit a reservoir to help fund the good cause.
It is recommended to research the reservoir you might want to visit to ensure it fully supports and protects the alligators you visit. If you do make a stop at a reservoir enjoy the experience and the opportunity to marvel at this deadly but beautiful creature.