Day 7 - Pavilion Key. This morning we leave the waterway behind and paddle down the Chatham River back to the Gulf of Mexico. Tonight we camp on the sand beach at the northeastern tip of Pavilion Key. Key is a corruption of the Spanish word cayo or small island. Pavilion Key sports a long west facing sand beach. The powder soft and sparkling white sand is composed of calcium carbonate produced from the shells of marine invertebrates. This afternoon we'll have time to stretch our legs and shell hunt on the long beach. We'll enjoy our last night in the backcountry this evening with a vibrant Florida sunset and blazing beach campfire. Paddling distance: 8 miles. All meals included.
Day 8 10,000 Islands. We are now nearing the end of our journey, just as we’ve locked into the backcountry rhythms, forgotten our concerns from the outside world and focused only on meeting our immediate needs. But first, we enjoy our last paddle weaving through the 10,000 Islands. This vast tangle of "islands" is actually a maze of mangrove trees growing in a shallow tidal estuary. At high tide the inaccessible islands are completely flooded and at low tide they are surrounded by boat trapping mud flats. The 10,000 Islands afford a fantastic opportunity to witness our abundant migratory and resident birdlife, including flocks of ibis, diving osprey and vibrant pink spoonbills. We end our trip back in Everglades City before 4:00PM. Tonight enjoy your well earned shower and cold drink! Paddling distance: 12 miles. Breakfast and lunch included.
Does this sound like something for you, but you still have more questions? Feel free to contact Dave K directly at email@example.com or (386) 295-1850. He’ll be happy to personally answer all your questions. We look forward to hearing from you soon!
Click on the Tour Calendar below to see currently scheduled trips. Parties of two or more are welcome to schedule a new tour on any open dates. Simply complete and submit the online Tour Reservation Form and specify the days that work best for you. Solo travelers may book any of the scheduled trips with available spots. This 8-day Wilderness Waterway Expedition typically runs Sunday-Sunday with a maximum of four people.
● Transportation to and from your home. This point-to-point trip starts and ends at the Everglades NP Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City. In order to arrive on time, you will be required to travel to Florida prior to the tour and drive to Everglades City where you may securely park your car for the eight days. See our Overnight Tour Information document for more details.
● Pre- and post-tour accommodations. For convenience and comfort, we recommend spending the night before and after your tour at the Ivey House in Everglades City. See our Overnight Tour Information document for details.
● Pre- and post-tour meals. Breakfast on the first morning and dinner on the last day is not included. See the above Detailed Itinerary for all included meals.
● Alcoholic beverages and soft drinks. We provide plenty of fresh drinking water for the duration of the tour along with a small amount beer and wine. If you enjoy soda, beer, wine or alcohol, you are certainly welcome to bring additional with you. Although be aware that it's not possible to keep drinks cold.
● Personal travel/trip insurance. Insurance which offers comprehensive coverage and peace of mind is strongly recommended for all participants. These policies are designed protect you in case of lost or damaged luggage, flight cancellations or delays, family emergency, medical expenses, emergency evacuation costs, trip cancellation and other covered situations. Inexpensive and short term policies of this sort are routinely issued by most travel and insurance agencies (available online).
● Gratuities for your hard working guide. The generally accepted practice for tipping is 15% of the tour price or an average of $30US per person per day.
● Personal items. Please see the specific Packing List in our Overnight Tour Information document.
● Seven nights camping accommodation in shared 2-person tents. We provide free-standing dome tents with fine no-see-um mesh.
● Single or double expedition quality sea kayaks (your choice), including all kayaking and safety equipment.
● All necessary camping gear including freshly laundered sleeping bag, comfortable self-inflating mattress, packable camp pillow and several dry bags for personal items. Of course, if you own and prefer your personal tent, sleeping bag, mattress or even kayak you are welcome to bring them from home.
● All required national park camping fees and permits. You won't have to arrive 24 hours ahead to stand in line and risk being shut out of a campsite.
● Paddling the entire 99 mile length of the famous Wilderness Waterway. Although the waterway follows a mostly protected inside route, we will vary the trip to visit other scenic and interesting locations such as Cape Sable, the Nightmare, Watson Place and Pavillion Key.
● Van shuttle transportation from the meeting point in Everglades City (where you may securely park your vehicle) to the kayak put-in at Flamingo. We will then paddle north toward the take-out where our vehicles await us. Self guided kayakers pay $500 alone for the van shuttle.
● Eight days professional guide services and quality leadership of your experienced kayak. Dave K is an ACA certified Open Water Sea Kayak Instructor, NOLS certified Wilderness First Responder and Florida Master Naturalist graduate.
● All meals from lunch on the first day through lunch on the last (7 breakfast, 8 lunch, 7 dinners, 22 total meals). We provide tasty and plentiful food, including fresh and delicious camp made meals and carry along brown bag lunches. We don’t use tasteless and unhealthy dehydrated boil-in-bag meals.
Day 2 - Cape Sable.After our first breakfast, we’ll break camp and load the boats before heading out around Cape Sable. Our hearty breakfasts include pancakes, eggs, bacon, toast, cereal, cold milk, fresh fruit, juice and coffee. Throughout the day, we'll stop for leg stretches, bathroom breaks and a buffet picnic lunch. Often, no dry ground is available and we'll each prepack a "brown bag" lunch to carry inside our kayaks. Long and undeveloped Cape Sable is completely exposed to the open Gulf of Mexico. This beautiful and wild coastline is fronted by long beaches completely devoid of the condominiums backing most of Florida's coast. We camp tonight on Middle Cape where our own 5 mile long beach with an unobstructed sunset view awaits us. Paddling distance: 11 miles. All meals included.
Day 3 - Desolation Coast. We continue north today in the Gulf of Mexico. This wild coast was thrashed by several hurricanes in the mid 2000s. The area’s isolation and the dead trees have earned it the name "Desolation Coast". Late this afternoon, we reach Ponce de Leon Bay where we'll paddle approximately three miles across open water at the mouth of the bay. In the open water, we have a great opportunity to spot dolphin, sea turtle and white pelican. If the weather does not cooperate, we'll head east toward the protected inside of the bay. We camp tonight on a wooded ground site at Graveyard Creek. Paddling distance: 17 miles. All meals included.
Day 4 - Nightmare Route. We head inside today from the open gulf and into the narrow, twisted and shallow Nightmare Route. This route was named by motor boaters who became stranded at low tide and swarmed by clouds of mosquitoes. It is actually a very pleasant paddle for kayakers through a shady canopy of mangrove tunnels. Our destination tonight is Rogers River Bay Chickee. Chickee is the Seminole native word for "house" and is what the national park calls their camping platforms. These platforms are wooden decks with metal roofs constructed over the water on stilts. We set up our tents and sleep directly over the water tonight. This unique experience allows us to listen to the fish jump and manatees breathe throughout the night. Paddling distance: 19 miles. All meals included.
Day 5 - Wilderness Waterway. Today we pick up and follow the actual Wilderness Waterway all day. This waterway follows a protected inside route through connected shallow bays and creeks. The route is marked by the national park with consecutively numbered posts from #1 in Flamingo to #137 in Everglades City placed at potentially confusing junctions. All day we'll be counting up toward our destination. This area is also the farthest inland we reach on the trip and the fresh water here is preferred by alligators. Today we have the best opportunity to see these large reptiles, especially in the aptly named Alligator Creek. Our campsite tonight is Plate Creek Chickee at Lostman's Five Bay. The interesting name is rumored to have come from early settlers who discovered Spanish sailors hiding out here after deserting their ship. Paddling distance: 13 miles. All meals included.
Day 6 - Watson Place. Today we continue to follow the waterway north before heading west on the Chatham River. Our destination is one of historic significance, the infamous Watson Place. Around the turn of the century, the notorious Ed Watson, a headstrong and violent tempered man with a shadowy past, lived and farmed here. His employees, neighbors and associates too often disappeared and were never heard from again after disputes with Mr. Watson. The homesteader met an early demise when the local men took the law into their own hands. This story was made famous in Peter Matthiessen's 1991 book Killing Mr Watson. The campsite here is in a clearing on a man made “shell mound”. The mound was constructed by the Calusa natives, the original people in southwest Florida. The Calusa lived and thrived in Florida for centuries, well before the more famous Seminole people, who migrated here only in the last 200 years. Sadly the Calusa were wiped out by smallpox and warfare with the Spanish. The Calusa constructed dozens of these engineered mounds over generations as dry land for home sites. The Watson Place mound is one of the Everglades largest at 38 acres. Paddling distance: 14 miles. All meals included.
Day 1 - Flamingo. Your tour begins at 9:00AM in Everglades City. After introductions, we distribute individual dry bags for packing your personal items. We will then load all personal gear, camping gear, kayaks, equipment, food and water into our shuttle van. Any additional personal gear you do not wish to bring on the tour can be locked in your vehicle. Your vehicle will be securely parked for the duration of the tour at the boat ramp where our trip will end. Next, we’ll shuttle to the kayak put-in at the national park marina in Flamingo. Flamingo is a tiny outpost at the southernmost tip of the state. The name does come from the colorful birds which occasionally pass through the area, but now live more abundantly in the Caribbean. Here we say goodbye to civilization and head out into the wilderness!
We paddle this afternoon along the coastline of Florida Bay and stay tonight at the East Cape campsite. After unloading the boats and setting up our first camp, we'll enjoy a delicious dinner. Our hearty meals are a highlight! We provide fresh, plentiful, nutritious and delicious food. With our backcountry experience, we've learned that depending on bland and unhealthy dehydrated meals is not necessary. Paddling distance: 5 miles. Lunch and dinner included.
Client Testimonial "Took a stunning 8-day adventure with Dave K. where we camped and kayaked from Flamingo to Everglades City. Also took a fun 3-day camp and kayak a few days prior to the big adventure where we camped on chickee. Dave is an excellent guide, he’s the one who spends time in the "kitchen" - yep, he shops and cooks - wow. I had a gorgeous single kayak; a sleek fiberglass Seaward single. Saw fabulous wildlife and scenery. I cannot rate either of these trips highly enough. It helps to be a fit paddler for the 8-day expedition, but the 3-day tour is suitable for anyone. Dave has double kayaks as well.”
Bron Jones <firstname.lastname@example.org> Nov 1-8, 2015
This 8-day tour follows the famous Wilderness Waterway as described in an Outside Magazine article. The story was titled Don't Write Off the Gulf, referring to the fact that kayaking in the Everglades was unaffected by the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Dave K was interviewed as the reference source for information on the trip. On this tour you will paddle the entire 99-mile length of the Wilderness Waterway. This waterway traverses the full length of the Everglades from Flamingo in the south to Everglades City in the north. The trip is famous for allowing a complete eight day immersion in the wilderness backcountry with no access between the put-in and take-out. Such a vast inaccessible wilderness is available no where else in the eastern United States. As noted in Outside Magazine, you will see Everglades National Park - and nobody else - on this trip!
After acceptance, your reservation will be confirmed by paying a $200 per person deposit. We will email you a PayPal invoice with secure link make a credit card payment. Upon receipt of the completed reservation form and deposit, we’ll send you a reservation confirmation email, detailed Overnight Tour Info sheet with personal packing list, and Liability Waiver. Your trip is scheduled to go at that point. Please do not make additional travel arrangements until you receive this confirmed reservation from us.
We look forward to having you join us for the trip of a lifetime. Why wait? Many trips fill fast, reserve your adventure today!