Monday, March 3, 2014

South Florida and the Florida Keys: In the Swamp at Big Cypress with Florida Panthers and Alligators

Big Cypress National Preserve is over 700,000 acres of freshwater swamp, and it is also home to about 30 of Florida's 120 or so Florida Panthers.  Along with the occasional panther crossing the road, a trip through Big Cypress puts you on a path to see real alligators and lots of other Florida wildlife in its natural habitat.  Big Cypress was established in 1974, and we loved our stop at the Oasis Visitors Center.  The Oasis Center has a lot of education going on inside, so if you have kids or are curious kids at heart, be sure to go inside to learn the real facts about the swamp and the wildlife that calls South Florida home.  Driving through Big Cypress you will see panther crossing signs on the road, and at the center you'll learn how vehicle strikes are still a leading cause of panther death.  We really don't have enough panthers to be running them over at night with our cars, and they are pretty cool and an important part of the swamp, so slow down and observe night time speed limits while your out cruising.

The big star of the show at Oasis Visitors Center are the alligators.  These guys are hard to miss, and even harder not to marvel how you can get so close to them from the observation deck.  As the official photographers of the Georgetown Fair Queen you often see us with big cameras and long telephoto lenses, so we wanted you to know we snapped these pictures with our compact camera which doesn't have much of a built-in zoom.  And he best part - it doesn't cost anything to stop at Oasis.  They'll load you up with maps and information, tell you the best stories and give you the best tips.  Even the visitor center itself has a really cool story.  So when you go out into Big Cypress looking for an adventure, be sure to spend some time at the Oasis Visitors Center, and be sure to look around, because lurking between the alligators and panthers you might just spot Josh and Joe Travels!

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