First off, on the "What sort of visit was this?" - none of the provided answers applies. We're both in our 50's, so I answered "friends" - but it was still an absolute blast! Here's the story...
My brother, an avid and very experienced angler who wasn't in the mood to fish that day, was down visiting from Connecticut. When I mentioned that with a bit of a day trip (I live on Siesta Key - Sarasota) we could go take an airboat ride, he jumped on the idea. I had been on airboat rides a couple of times before, several years ago, and for the life of me couldn't remember which company I had gone to (there are several in Everglades City). But with a little on-line research and some coupons, we settled on Jungle Erv's, and were NOT disappointed.
We went for the 3-hour / 3-part package deal (airboat ride in one area of the 'Glades, then a stroll on the boardwalk, then another airboat trip in another area), and with our coupons, printed right off JE's site, we each paid $60. Each of our airboat pilots was knowledgeable of the area, its history, and its plants and animals, and very, very friendly and engaging.
We saw so many manatee it amazed us, many species of birds, and several 'gators, including one that our second pilot, Sean, enticed up onto the bank with some chunks of bread, RIGHT NEXT to our temporarily-grounded airboat, so we got some VERY close-up photos of a wild 'gator walking along next to our boat - we could have reached out of the boat from our seats and touched it (but we DIDN'T, of course!). Just enthralling. And the big male that lives right under the JE's reception building is an extremely impressive specimen. On the other tour our guide ran us through some feeding tarpon, hooked one, and handed the rod and reel to my brother to bring it in for all to see before we released it, unharmed.
Zooming through the mangroves on those boats, with the skill of those pilots both in keeping us from getting lost (I don't know HOW they do that...) and keeping us all safe, while still having a heck of a ride and lots of fun, made for a great memory for both the novice (my brother) and the more experienced (myself) member of our party.
Tip your guides generously if you go - they deserve it!
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