Kayaking in the Everglades National Park
Mangrove, chickee camping, dolphins… a loop around White Water Bay.
After a first night in the Flamingo dispersed camping (and a mini tempest..) it was time to pickup a permit at the Visitor Center and load-up the kayak and start the paddle of the next five days.
The goal of the trip was to explore the remote and quiet sections of the rivers while camping on the chickees. Mostly staying inside the bay as one more day was needed for looping back the ocean logistically and the inside felt more original (and true ocean kayaking in blue water was actually the goal of another upcoming trip).
It can get quite windy and the current created by the bay emptying/refilling can either add/substract 2–3 miles/hours — 3–4 km/hours to your speed. But overall it is not too advanced.
After a first encounter with a big alligator in the canal, direction Hells Bay.
I got the first feeling of a maze in the Watson River. It is also a very green mangrove, and the North of Shark river was excellent with great spots, dolphins, fishes sightings.
The goal was to at least see a bit of the sea, especially that the tide was in sync, then back to White Water Bay as the wind waves were sustainable. There are excellent little paths criss crossing with the Bay and the Joe River.
Then back down to the bottom of the bay and camp for the night on the best chickee: a true Island.
After a super calm sunny morning, the wind slowly picked up again. Several manatees, small alligators could be spotted in the canal, as well as the first other kayaks.
Interestingly my phone died that morning, but this made me remember and appreciate this day even more. A good lesson on the distraction coming from them. It also created some confusion as a time change happened this night, but it all turned out ok thanks to the usual little extra buffer.
The park is not “extraordinary” (compared to kayaking in South East Alaska, Lofoten Islands, Bahamas…), it reminds a bit of Voyageur, but the overall remoteness by its size, the golden sun on bright green mangroves in small rivers, the chickees… make it a really worth it and a perfect change of decors (the 1000s stars reflecting on the water during the night do not hurt either)!
And after “re-learning” how to walk after these fice days on the water, it was a “rough” back to the civilization via Miami!