Everglades National Park
To begin to understand the true wilderness that occupies most of the southern tip of Florida, there is nothing like a visit the 734-square-mile wetland preserve of Everglades National Park. More than a national treasure, the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, deemed important to the greater culture of all of humanity, and is the largest tropical wilderness in the USA. Among the many and diverse species that dwell here are manatees, Florida alligators, American crocodiles, Florida panthers, and the state’s elusive black bear, in addition to several unwanted invasive species including Burmese pythons. From Miami, the best access point is Shark Valley, where you can ride a 15-mile loop through the park aboard a tram, climb an observation tower for panoramic views, and walk out to viewing decks to spot alligators, birds, and more. For the more adventurous, there are several outfitters who can take you deeper into the Everglades on kayaking tours to visit a pristine wilderness few people on the planet get lucky enough to witness.
By Terry Ward, AFAR Local Expert
It's one thing to tip a guy a few bucks and see him pull off some stupid human tricks with some of the world's most dangerous animals, however I prefer another route.... I'd rather have someone take me out to these animals' natural habitat. This shot was taken out on a personal tour of the Everglades - we spotted two very curious alligators that came right up to our boat.