Alligators, coyotes, red foxes, white-tailed deer, frogs, toads and turtles are only a few of the animals you’ll spot when you’re riding on Wild Florida’s airboat with a gigantic fan buzzing behind you.
And, of course, you can’t miss one of Florida’s 1.25 million alligators.
“It’s as Everglades as it gets,” said Sam Haught, co-founder and co-owner of Wild Florida Airboats, a tour company and soon-to-be safari park that promotes the state’s wildlife conservation. The company specializes in airboat eco tours that take visitors to areas where there is no development and no signs of human life.
“We want people to see what Florida looked like 1,000 years ago,” Haught said.
Haught co-founded Wild Florida in 2010 after graduating with a bachelor’s in finance at the University of Utah and later receiving an MBA from Rollins College. “I traded in the Wall Street thing for eco tourism,” he said. “It’s where my heart really was.”
And after a visit to his park, he hopes you’ll fall in love with the animals you meet.
“We hope you take an airboat tour and say, ‘Wow, Florida is beautiful and I don’t ever want it to go away,’” Haught said. “Whatever I can do to help keep Florida wild is what I’m after.”
If you’ve never been on an airboat ride before, Wild Florida offers these tips:
- To see the most alligators and other wildlife, the best time to visit are summer mornings around 9 a.m. During the winter, they recommend a noon visit when alligators are sunning themselves.
- Don’t forget about Central Florida’s daily afternoon summer thunderstorms. Wildlife is hard to see during the hottest time of the day, so plan on a morning trip or consider a nighttime ride.
Sam also recommends that you book your tour in advance and check their website for deals.