PADDLING CENTRAL FLORIDA’S MAGICAL WATERS

STARTING AT
$1,750
7 Days
Beginner
PADDLING CENTRAL FLORIDA’S MAGICAL WATERS

OVERVIEW

Fun Paddling Experience in Florida’s Magical Waters

From 1773 to 1778, William Bartram, a trained naturalist, traveled southern North America, noting the characteristics of almost everything he encountered: the rivers of Florida, the groves of wild oranges, the swamps and lagoons, the fish, the tropical snakes and reptiles, the land and aquatic birds, the festivals of the Seminole indians, and the customs of the Creek Indians. He was to Florida what Lewis and Clark were to the north west.

Following the general path of William Bartram, we will paddle our way through large swamps and narrow rivers to the St. Johns River. Traveling north (downstream) the group will stop to explore large springs, flora and fauna, Indian mounds, and other points of interest. We will camp beside the river within state parks (yes, there will be showers available every night). Nights will be spent hiking, exploring, and discussing the day’s highlights around the campfire.

TOUR DATES

Nov 10-16, 2024

HIGHLIGHTS

WHAT’S INCLUDED

Background:

From 1773 to 1778, William Bartram, a trained naturalist, traveled southern North America, noting the characteristics of almost everything he encountered: the rivers of Florida, the groves of wild oranges, the swamps and lagoons, the fish, the tropical snakes and reptiles, the land and aquatic birds, the festivals of the Seminole indians, and the customs of the Creek Indians. He was to Florida what Lewis and Clark were to the north west.

Following the general path of William Bartram, we will paddle our way through large swamps and narrow rivers to the St. Johns River. Traveling north (downstream) the group will stop to explore large springs, flora and fauna, Indian mounds, and other points of interest. We will camp beside the river within state parks (yes, there will be showers available every night). Nights will be spent hiking, exploring, and discussing the day’s highlights around the campfire.

Starting Point:

All participants will be picked up from the Orlando International Airport at noon on the first day. Participants wanting to drive will be mailed a map prior to the trip

Day 1 — WAirport pick up, settle into our lodge, meet & greet and enjoy our first group meal together. Afterwards we will walk down to the river and receive basic instruction on kayaking..

Day 2 — Shuttle to Rock Springs run, snorkel, swim, and explore the large springs. Basic kayak instruction will be given before we make our way down the spring run to the confluence of the Wekiwa River. Keep an eye out for alligators, otters, wild hog, and swimming deer. Lunch served picnic style at the sight of an ancient Indian midden. Evening will be spent at our lodge hiking, birding, or swimming in the river.

Day 3 — After a big breakfast and a short shuttle we will be back into our kayaks for a day on the Econlockhatchee River. At this time of year the Econlockhatchee is exploding with color and the movement of life. The river is edged by arching sabal palms and moss covered live oaks. Islands of lush green water plants float in the stream, while asters dot the landscape with purple. The trained eye will spot clumps of orchids mingling with resurrection ferns and draping Spanish moss. On occasion, deer hide near the rivers edge for a drink, bears are seen amongst the palmetto, and alligator sun them selves on the beaches.

Day 4 — An exciting day for wildlife viewing! We will make our way into the lower Wekiva river basin and meet up with the St. Johns River, rich in serious wildlife. Have your camera ready. Turtles and large alligators sunning on logs or on the river banks can be observed at distances determined by the strength of your nerves or the power of your binoculars. In addition we will have the opportunity to observe many wading birds. Our take out for the day will be at Blue Spring State Park. Last year we spotted over 400 manatees in the spring run alone!

Day 5 — Today we visit a place of great beauty and rich history, New Smyrna and Canaveral National Seashore. The day will be spent paddling the many islands in the lagoon and hiking on the still undeveloped beaches. On our ride home we will stop at the Orlando Wetlands for another hike.

Day 6 — We are off to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. In my opinion this is the greatest place in Florida for birding and wildlife viewing. There is so much, it just seems too easy. We will be feet away from rosette spoonbills, glossy ibis, reddish egrets, wood storks, bald eagle, and countless species of migrating ducks. Optional Night paddle: During the cool winter months bioluminescent comb jellyfish congregate in the waters of the Indian River Lagoon. These little jellyfish put on quite the show when disturbed by a darting fish or us curious kayakers. If folks are up to staying late we can paddle out into the darkness and enjoy the show.

Day 7 — After a morning hike and a huge breakfast, we will make our way back to Orlando and the airport. We should arrive at the airport by 1pm.

The leaders will joyfully prepare all meals.. Meals included in the trip fee begin with dinner on the first day and breakfast on the last day. Meals served on the trip will honor and reflect local cuisine. A typical dinner would consist of shrimp and crawfish etouffee, white rice, garlic bread, fresh salad, and something chocolate for dessert. Folks with special diets should contact the trip leader.

Our lodging will be at an 800 acre working cattle ranch and B&B on the Econlockhatchee River. There is a large two story log cabin with wrap around porch and an old fashion “Cracker” house. Bathrooms are shared and rooms are multiple occupancy. Rooms with one bed will of course be given to couples. Camping is permitted for those who prefer tenting it! Because we are staying at a lodge each night, everyday our group will have to be shuttled to that days location.

This trip is geared for all levels of paddlers. Instruction will be given prior to paddling each day. I ask that participants be in good physical condition and at least eighteen years of age. We will paddle between 8-10 miles per day. This translates into five to six hours on the river. If bad weather rolls in alternative activities have been planned.

Be sure to download the following files:

Orlando International Airport

1 Jeff Fuqua Blvd, Orlando,
FL 32827, United States

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