Eco-tours In The Orlando Area

By: Mark Whichard

The theme parks of Orlando such as Disney World and Universal Studios will provide you with plenty of simulated adventures. But why stop with computer generated thrills, when you can experience nature directly in beautiful locations all around Orlando? If you would like to enrich your vacation in the Orlando area with an eco-tour or two, here are some of the possibilities that await you.

Kayaking tours on the lakes, swamps and marshes of central Florida will give you glimpses of magnificent birds and wildlife. If you are a "birder" then get ready to spot beautiful birds such as White Pelicans, Red Headed Woodpeckers, and Great Blue Heron. And if you keep your eyes open you can also see wild hogs, deer, black bears, raccoons and bobcats, all in their natural environments and not in a zoo.

The best locations for kayaking include the following:

1. Pelican Island, the USA's first national wildlife refuge which was inaugurated in 1903

2. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. This refuge is the home of the largest number of endangered plant and bird species of all US refuges.

3. Loxahatchee River Canoe Trail. Here you can paddle on Florida's only federally designated natural wild and scenic river.

4. Indian River and Mosquito Lagoon. This is a richly historical area which has been occupied by at least seven distinct Indian cultures dating back to 7000 BC, Spanish explorers, and civil war troops.

5. Cape Canaveral National Seashore. This has been called the most beautiful beach in the USA.

In addition to these there are some specialized kayaking tours that will get you connected with Central Florida's wildlife and nature.

Manatee tours will enable you to see and even touch Florida's most endangered species. This is a two hour 2 hour trip on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge east of Titusville Florida. They guarantee Manatee sighting during the months April-October and this tour, which is graded as "easy" only costs $30 for a single kayak and $45 for a double.

If you are a bird lover than try a Birding tour, also at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. June and July are the best months for avid birders with many fledgling birds wandering the shore of a rookery island located just near the launch site of the tour. This is also an economical outing that costs around $25.

Do you fancy a tropical adventure? Then try a tour of the Silver River. This has been called one of the most beautiful rivers in Florida. Here you can paddle upstream before dark and enjoy a beautiful tropical experience and see what Old Florida was like. You can also see lots of wildlife.

Would you like to get a magnificent view of a Shuttle launch? Then try a kayak tour that will let you paddle out to a location that is just seven miles from the launching platform. You will get an unobstructed view of the launch as well as seeing some manatees and dolphins on the way to the viewing lagoon.

This is just a sample of some of the eco-tours that are possible in the Orlando area and central Florida. So the next time you plan an Orlando vacation, think beyond the theme parks and take advantage of the natural beauty of this popular tourist destination.

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