Tourists pay a fortune to see the “Big 5” on safari in Africa, but visitors to Sarasota can have just as much fun spotting Florida’s Big 5 – alligators, manatees, anhingas, sandhill cranes and bald eagles. The easiest way to explore the wild side of Florida and spot some of these native animals is with Myakka Wildlife Tours.
Tours start in Myakka River State Park near Sarasota and Venice. The exhilarating one-hour airboat ride zips over the waters and wetlands towards Upper Myakka Lake. The scenic cruises are aboard the Myakka Maiden or the Gator Gal, two unique airboats that are the largest in the world.
The beauty of these airboats is that they are stable enough to take photographs of the scenery, wildlife and birds that you will spot along the way.
Exciting Airboat Rides
Airboats can travel over shallow grassy waters where traditional boats would not be able to go, to reach nesting sites and shallows where you may spot turtles, wading birds and alligators basking in the sun.
The journey passes through unspoiled Florida scenery just as the Indians and early settlers would have experienced it. Pass shady hammocks, marshes, prairies and wetlands as well as open waters in this diverse natural habitat. The banks are lined with native sabal palms and shady live oaks, their twisted branches decked with drifts of grey Spanish moss, a harmless airplant.
The Myakka River is the only river in Florida to be designated a Wild and Scenic River, which guarantees the preservation and management of the river for many generations to come. It is set within the Myakka River State Park which is one of the state’s oldest and largest state parks. An airboat tour through these scenic waters is a rare opportunity to get up-close to Florida’s birds and wildlife in their own natural environment.
See Florida Wildlife on your Myakka Wildlife Tour
Your Myakka Wildlife Tour guide will make it an interesting and educational trip for all ages. Their sharp eyes are trained to spot herons, anhingas, egrets, wood storks, roseate spoonbills and ibis looking for food at the water’s edge. A floating log may well turn out to be an alligator, their watchful eyes and snout just visible above the waterline.
If you’re lucky you will be close enough to see its scaly body stretching out for up to 10 feet before the alligator slowly sinks, leaving just a swirl of muddy water as evidence of his presence.
These peaceful backwaters are home to all manner of other creatures such as raccoons, Florida panthers, black bears, possums, turtles, frogs and manatees. The freshwater lakes and rivers are home to many types of ducks as well as ospreys, bald eagles, hawks, sandhill cranes and other rare sightings. Your knowledgeable guide will identify the amazing diversity of wildlife and answer any questions. Learn how alligators build a huge nest; how the incubating temperature governs whether the eggs will hatch as males or females; why manatees are endangered and how spoonbills sift the waters for tasty morsels with their flat spoon-shaped bills.
This educational fun trip is sure to be a highlight of your visit to Sarasota and is suitable for all ages and fitness levels.
Save on your Myakka Wildlife Tour with a coupon from Must Do Visitor Guides!