Your 8-day adventure begins at 9:00AM in Everglades City. After introductions, we’ll shuttle to the kayak put-in at the national park marina in Flamingo. Flamingo is a tiny outpost at the southernmost tip of the state – named after the colorful birds which occasionally pass through the area, but now live more abundantly in the Caribbean. Here we say goodbye to civilization and head out into the wilderness! Our first day will take us through the other-worldly eeriness of this beautiful landscape and along the coastline of Florida Bay, where we will spend a night under the stars surrounded by nature at the East Cape campsite. After unloading the boats and setting up our first camp, we’ll enjoy a delicious dinner. Our hearty meals are a highlight! We provide fresh, plentiful, and delicious food. With our backcountry experience, we’ve learned that depending on bland and unhealthy dehydrated meals is not necessary.
Paddling distance: 5 miles. Lunch and dinner included.
After our first day of paddling, we´ll recharge with a freshly-made breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast, cereal, cold milk, fresh fruit, juice and coffee. Throughout the day, we’ll stop for leg stretches, bathroom breaks and a buffet picnic lunch. Long and undeveloped Cape Sable is completely exposed to the open Gulf of Mexico. This beautiful and wild coastline is fronted by long beaches completely devoid of the condominiums backing most of Florida’s coast. We camp tonight on Middle Cape where our own 5 mile long beach with an unobstructed sunset view awaits us.
Paddling distance: 11 miles. All meals included.
We continue north today in the Gulf of Mexico. This wild coast is regularly thrashed by hurricanes. The area’s isolation and the dead trees have earned it the name “Desolation Coast”. Late this afternoon, we reach Ponce de Leon Bay where we’ll paddle approximately three miles across open water at the mouth of the bay. In the open water, we have a great opportunity to spot dolphin, sea turtle and white pelican. If the weather does not cooperate, we’ll head east toward the protected inside of the bay. We camp tonight on a wooded ground site at Graveyard Creek.
Paddling distance: 17 miles. All meals included.
We head inside today from the open gulf and into the narrow, twisted and shallow Nightmare Route. This route was named by motor boaters who became stranded at low tide and swarmed by clouds of mosquitoes. It is actually a very pleasant paddle for kayakers through a shady canopy of mangrove tunnels. Our destination tonight is Rogers River Bay Chickee. Chickee is the Seminole native word for “house” and is what the national park calls their camping platforms. These platforms are wooden decks with metal roofs constructed over the water on stilts. We´ll set up our tents and sleep directly over the water tonight for a unique experience listening to fish jump and manatees surfacing for a breath.
Paddling distance: 19 miles. All meals included.
Following the Wilderness Waterway all day, we´ll paddle through shallow bays and creeks. The route is marked by the national park with consecutively numbered posts from #1 in Flamingo to #137 in Everglades City. All day we’ll be counting up toward our destination. This area is also the farthest inland we reach on the trip and the freshwater here is preferred by alligators. Take advantage of fantastic alligator-sighting opportunities along your journey, especially in the aptly named Alligator Creek. Don´t worry, these reptiles shy away from kayaks, but look great on camera! Our campsite tonight is Plate Creek Chickee at Lostman’s Five Bay.
Paddling distance: 13 miles. All meals included.
Today we head down Chatham River to a destination of historical significance, the infamous Watson Place. Around the turn of the century, the notorious Ed Watson, a headstrong and violent tempered man with a shadowy past, lived and farmed here. The campsite is in a clearing on a man made “shell mound” constructed by the Calusa natives, the original people in southwest Florida. The Calusa constructed dozens of these engineered mounds over generations as dry land for home sites. Our camping destination, the Watson Place mound, is one of the Everglades largest at 38 acres.
Paddling distance: 14 miles. All meals included.
This morning we leave the waterway behind and paddle down the Chatham River back to the Gulf of Mexico, where we will arrive at our destination – a breathtaking sandy beach at the northeastern tip of Pavilion Key. The powder soft and sparkling white sand is composed of calcium carbonate produced from the shells of marine invertebrates. Stretch your legs and shell hunt along this beautifully remote coastline. We’ll enjoy our last night in the backcountry sharing memories around a blazing beach campfire and taking in the glorious Florida sunset.
Paddling distance: 8 miles. All meals included.
By the end of our 8-day adventure, we’ll have locked into the backcountry rhythms and forgotten our concerns from the outside world, but unfortunately the fun has to end! Before we say our goodbyes, we´ll enjoy our last paddle weaving through the 10,000 Islands. This vast tangle of “islands” is actually a maze of mangrove trees growing in a shallow tidal estuary. A fantastic opportunity to witness our abundant migratory and resident birdlife, including flocks of ibis, diving osprey and vibrant pink spoonbills. We end our trip back in Everglades City before 4:00PM with our heads and hearts full of memories of the Everglades.
Paddling distance: 12 miles. Breakfast and lunch included.