I am visiting Florida with my Mom this week. We are staying on Miami Beach so we decided to get away from the crowds and take a trip to the everglades today. It was about an hour drive, but most of it is scenic if you are not from around here.
We looked up "everglades airboat rides" on google maps and saw that there were about five places on the same highway. We drove in that general direction and drove past many superficial, touristy looking airboat places packed with tour busses. We pulled into Buffalo Tiger because it was less crowded and is run by the local Indian tribe. It seemed like less of a tourist trap.
We walked into the main shop that is filled with handmade little trinquets and a few cheap snacks. We were greeted by Alberto (a local indian) who answered our questions and was super friendly. He lead us out to the dock where we waited for about twenty minutes for the boat to return. We saw two gators in the water just of the dock as well as a lot of fish.
When we finally got onto the boat with about six other people we met Ernie Redwing who is also native/local. He is well educated on the gator species and shared a lot of knowledge with us. We sped through the swampy waters at a very fast pace which was a thrill! We got splashed with a little bit of water and mud, but nothing that stained or got our cameras in trouble. We would pull up onto bushes and Ernie would call out to the gators with a certain clicking noise. They came up to the boat, knowing there would be food.
We also made a 10 or 15 minute stop at a locally owned island where we saw about 30 raccoons. They were very cute, but we were warned that they were dangerous and we could not touch them.
Overall the trip was awesome! The only downside is that they were feeding the animals dog food. I wish they would feed them small fish or something less processed overall.