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Enjoy Seminole Tours of the Everglades with
The Billy Swamp Safari

Airboat rides are a cool and fun way to tour the
Everglades. Tip: bring earplugs!

or those who want their Florida vacations to feature something really unique, a trip to Billy's Swamp Safari, roughly 2,000 acres on the Big Cypress reservation, is definitely worth the excursion. Though a bit of a hike from anywhere in South Florida, this incredible area, - reached by going approximately halfway across Alligator Alley (I-75), then north about 17 miles, feels as if are in the state's heart because of it's pristine vistas, spread out before you like an African savannah.

You can enter and explore, courtesy of the Florida Seminole Indians, who will graciously share their heritage and history with you and educate you with knowledgeable tour guides. The swamp buggy tour takes a good couple

The Seminoles have learned to co-exist
among the thousands of alligators and
crocodiles indigenous to the Everglades.
Alligator wrestling is a popular attraction.
of hours and the large, big wheeled vehicle is really fun to ride. It will bounce you along jeep-style, on narrow trails through hardwood hammocks, cypress domes and deep patches of swamp water. You'll follow Sam Jones Trail, named after the famous Seminole who was a fierce guiding spirit behind the Seminoles' resistance to being relocated by the U.S. Army.

Catch glimpses of gopher tortoise burrows, alligators, crocodiles, panthers, deer, antelopes, razorback hogs, and a suprising variety of wild African and European deer, antelopes and water buffalo. Learn about how the natives used the indigenous herbs and plants for all sorts of purposes, which grew abundantly in the tropical cypress forest. Right inside the deepest part of forest is a recreated traditional Seminole camp. In the rainy season, when much of the area is underwater, Seminole villagers used to paddle right up to their chickees homes. One could easily imagine how the Seminoles lived and thrived in this hidden forest, as they eluded the US Army. The tour is available between 8 am and sunset, reservations are not required.

Fallow deer as well as African animals living in
Big Cypress are right at home in this
marvelous, unique eco-system.
The Glades may also be explored by airboat and canoe. Though no reservations are required for these rides, they are seasonal due to fluctuating water levels.

Day Safaris include an Ecotour with an alligator show, plus lunch or dinner at the Swamp Water Cafe. The cafe offers real Seminole fare such as gator tail, frog legs and fry bread. Four hours long, Day Safaris also offer participants a chance to learn a Seminole skill. It is preferred that visitors make reservations.

For those wishing to have a complete Glades adventure, Night Safaris are available. First, participants go on a Day Safari, followed by dinner at the Swamp Water Cafe. Then, they can be enthralled by Seminole storytelling around a blazing campfire and go on an exciting Night Ecotour of the swamps. After spending the night in a chickee cabin, an authentic hut with palm-thatched roofs, under a star-studded sky, you will enjoy breakfast at the cafe and then take a Nature Walk and make a visit to the Herpetarium for a reptile and amphibian show. Reservations for Night Safaris are required.

Florida panthers, now, sadly,
very few in number, once
lived here undisturbed for
thousands of years.
Since the Billy Swamp Safari site is 45 miles from the nearest city, it is best to come prepared. Recommended provisions include comfortable clothing suitable for camping or hiking, a hat and boots or sturdy shoes. Also important are special medicines or foods, cameras, sunscreen and insect repellant. Basic toiletries, film, and books may be purchased at the Camp Store. Towels for overnight guests will be provided.

To make reservations, call Billy Swamp Safari at 305/257-3737, or fax them at 305/ 257-2137.