Airboat wildlife sightseeing tours
All of the arrangements are correct, you do meet at a gas station. Catch up with a guy in an old beat up Lincoln and follow him to a gated property where there is a landing strip with a helicopter (taking off, when we arrived). You give them a credit card when you make the reservation for obvious reason, it’s called a “deposit” to hold your reservation. Just ask what the reservation policy is and they will tell you. If you’re skeptical, don’t book it and complain later. It is a 24 hour cancellation and 25$ per person cx fee.
You drive towards the lake and park under the cypress trees in on a unspoiled pretty little parcel where there is a petty brown horse that wonders freely, that comes over to greet you (a wonderful treat for the kids). There’s a little dock where you board the boat. Not at all commercialized… pretty simple access, as one of our group uses a walker. On our ride, we saw a bald headed eagle, a large male alligator that bellowed at us, several babies and a couple large females. All kind of birds and ducks. Captain Joe was very knowledgeable about the animals and vegetation on the lake. He answered all of our questions, had a great sense of humor. He enjoyed joking with the kids and allowed everyone a chance to get a picture in the captains seat. He’s not in a uniform and issuing regulations for the masses. He explained all of the necessary safety procedures prior to the trip, about life jackets and emergency procedures, etc. We completely enjoyed our trip. It is a small informal company, which is a nice change from the whole Disney area experience. We all handled a smallish alligator after the ride. Said farewell to the friendly horse “puppy” and headed on our way out through the gate which seems to be a point of contention on some of the unhappy posts (though, if I recall correctly, there are gates around all of the other attractions in the area).
We took a 90 minute ride with ex-USMC Captain Kenny. Got up real close to some meaty alligators which Kenny treated with respect and good ethics, even getting us close to a nursing mother – with a dozen baby gators – without causing disturbance. Also saw bald eagles, egrets. Knowledgable on all nature on the lake and some good speed. Got some great footage on the GoPro. Kids loved it.
There were 8 of us in our party, including a 2 year old. We all had a great time. We saw lots of Florida wild life, inc. alligators and a moccasin snake. Our guide was Capt. Joe, he was good fun and very knowledgable. Don’t be put off by the meeting at the gas station, everything runs smoothly from there.