Not a Roadside Attraction
An Inside Look at Everglades Swamp Tours
While Florida is known for its several manmade attractions, it's important to remember it is also home to the largest subtropical wilderness in the United States. There is no better way to explore the Everglades than a swamp tour. Tyler Ryan, a tour guide with Everglades Swamp Tours, helps visitors discover the nature of South Florida in a safe and exhilarating way.
How long have you been a swamp tour guide?
8 Years. I used to do eco-tours in Naples.
Why did you become a guide?
I grew up outdoors, in the swamp. Going to school and learning about the environment, this became second nature. I’ve always been fascinated by all of this, so I like to teach it. For someone that’s never seen an alligator in real life, up close, they’re like dinosaurs. They’ve been around millions of years. It’s pretty neat.
What makes Everglades Swamp Tours?
This is not the typical roadside attraction with pet alligators that are fed illegally. We don’t go on the same loop, the same track all the time. I take people out on the boat as if I’m going out alone on the boat on the weekend. I think we have a more personal relationship with the customers. We have smaller boats and we cater a more high-end tour. It’s very private and very personalized. I’ve been on a lot of other boats. Ours are a lot nicer and more comfortable. Very smooth riding.
How fast do the boats go?
With no one in it, the boat can go 70 mph. During tours if they [customers] want to go fast, I’ll push the boat harder, close to 60mph.
When is the best time to take a tour? When is the most wildlife seen?
The most wildlife is seen in the winter months, from November through March. When the water level goes down, you see the gators come out. They use the sun to warm their bodies. All the birds come down here in the winter.
What’s the most commonly asked question you receive on the tours?
“Do you feed the gators?” And the answer is no. You’re not allowed to feed gators, it’s illegal. A lot of places do it though, so the alligators come right up to the boats. The alligators will be near our boats because they know we aren’t going to harm them.
Are people excited or afraid when they’re close the gators?
It’s a pretty good mix. Some are terrified. I’ve never had any encounters where it’s been dangerous, knock on wood. A lot of people will say “Let’s get closer!” as soon as they’re more comfortable, they want to see more. You can keep your distance if you want. Some gators take off, they don’t want to be seen. Others, let you get closer.
What’s your favorite part of the job?
Giving people a good experience. If I can teach them something, and make people have a good time, that’s what makes it for me.
- By Ettractions Digital Content Editor PAULA MARINO
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