When in Florida, one of the activities that should be done is wildlife viewing. From marine turtles to sharks, manatees and various kinds of bird, you can find them all in there; however, there’s one animal that comes to everyone’s mind when thinking of wildlife in Florida: Alligators.
These magnificent animals, live in freshwater environments and enjoy eating snails and worms when younger, and when older turtles and smaller birds, making the swamps in Florida a perfect place for them to live. One of those places being Paynes Prarie State Park, south of Gainesville, FL. Paynes Prarie is a great place for wildlife viewing. There are many different trails, where you can see different animals, but my personal favorite is La Chua Trail.
La Chua Trail is a 3-mile hike leading to Alachua Sink. It’s perfectly safe, despite the closeness to the alligators. You can get as close to a few feet from them without even knowing. The trail is incredibly easy, and it’s a great walk for all ages. I have seen babies in strollers, guys trying to impress their dates, families with their small children, large groups of UF undergrads hiking and people around my grandparents’ age; all having a great time and excited with the amount of gators around. By the end of the trail, you have a nice viewing point where you can sit down and appreciate the vista.
During the year I lived in Gainesville, this was definitely my favorite outdoor activity. Being this close to raw nature is by far one of the best experiences one might have. I really enjoyed being there, and no wonder I took most of out guests there. My one regret is that I didn’t go there more often.
If you are interested, you can check out more pictures from Paynes Prarie at my Gainesville Flickr album.
Have you ever seen Florida’s Alligators this close?