Don’t know what to do with your energetic visitors? Send them on a Swamp Walk in the Fakahatchee.
If they are relatively fit and don’t mind getting wet to the waist while wondering at the marvels of this primeval environment, they’ll have memories and photos to take home of a Florida far from concrete condos and shopping malls.
The walk is led by naturalists who can point out the rare plants along the way and answer questions about this local state park which was saved from development in the 1970s. The Fakahatchee is called “the Amazon of North America” and shares tropical characteristics with its more southern counterpart. It is home to the famous Ghost Orchid plus various other exotic plants and animals.
The 80,000 acres of the Fakahatchee in Collier County is bounded by US-41 (Tamiami Trail), I-75 (Alligator Alley), and SR-29 to the east. It segues into Picayune State Forest on the west.
The walks are hosted on Saturday, from November into April, by the Friends of Fakahatchee, a non-profit community support group which helps the park. To see a sample walk, visit http://www.orchidswamp.org/ and click on Events. Reservations are required! For information and to book, see the website or phone Pam at (239) 695-1023.
Explore Our Island History!
Join us for a really unique “Olde Florida” treat. The Friends of Fakahatchee are hosting Coastal Cruises through the mysterious mangroves of the Ten Thousands Island. On the way, you will probably see dolphins cavorting with the tour boat. When you arrive at Fakahatchee Island, a naturalist will point out unusual plants on the path up the ancient shell mound to the old cemetery. On the return journey, the boat passes by a famous rookery where the birds will be settling down for the evening.
We might think of “Fakahatchee” as a swamp with Ghost Orchids and Florida Panthers but to many local Gulf Coast families, it was the Fakahatchee Island that was important. In fact, it even had a school!
That was back in the early 1900s when farmers and fishermen had settled around Fakahatchee Bay, west of Chokoloskee, and scratched out a living. They grew fruits and veggies to sail to market in Key West. And, they fished. Salted mullet by the barrel brought in much-need funds.
What remains today is memories – and a cemetery, cisterns, a cow dip, and some wonderful unspoilt landscape with rare plants.
The Friends of Fakahatchee are repeating their successful Fakahatchee Coastal Cruise on January 13, February 2, February 15, March 2, March 13, and March 25. The event begins with a talk about the history of the area at the Everglades National Park Ranger Station in Everglades City at 3:00 p.m. Participants will then be ferried to the island by Everglades National Park Boat Tours. The event ends around 6:00 p.m. back in Everglades City where there are interesting restaurants in which to enjoy the area’s signature stone crabs and other delicacies.
This is a unique opportunity to learn about our outer islands and the communities that existed in olden times. It is also a chance to see a Ten Thousand Islands ecology that has not changed for over fifty years!
For information about the Fakahatchee Coastal Cruise, phone Pam at (239) 695-1023 or see www.orchidswamp.org and click on Events Schedule. Places (at $75 per person) are limited.