February 13 - Arrive Naples (Ft Myers airport) / Sanibel Island: Ding Darling Wildlife Refuge
After a late-morning/early afternoon arrival into Ft Myers, transfer to your Naples hotel before heading to lovely Sanibel Island and the Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge for a sunset cruise and a festive welcome dinner.
February 14 - Naples Botanical Garden / Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Head out this morning to the newly-redesigned Naples Botanical Garden, where you will get a behind-the-scenes look at a gopher tortoise colony and learn about native and invasive species, orchids, and ethnobotany. After a picnic lunch and free time in the gardens, drive to the legendary Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, known for the alligators, wood storks, and other indigenous species that inhabit this soaring old-growth cypress forest.
February 15 - Everglades National Park: Anhinga Trail / Winery Tour
This morning drive to the eastern Everglades for a leisurely exploration of the famous Anhinga Trail. An astonishing number of species may be seen in this area during the dry season, when the water level recedes elsewhere in the park. In the early afternoon, head to Schnebly's Redlands Winery for lunch and a tour of the lovely facilities, where award-winning wines are produced from such diverse produce as kiwi, star fruit, and avocados.
February 16 - Rookery Bay: Calusa Archaeology / Mangrove Kayaking
This morning, meet up with a local archaeologist to investigate a well-preserved Calusa Indian shell-mound site, and learn more about this culturally complex hunting-fishing-gathering society. After lunch, kayak through leafy green tunnels into the secluded backwaters of Rookery Bay, one of the few remaining undisturbed mangrove estuaries in North America. Join fellow travelers for a farewell dinner at the hotel this evening.
February 17 - Everglades National Park: Airboat ride / Big Cypress Gallery Walk
Start out early this morning for a thrilling airboat ride deep into the Everglades National Park. The sweeping sawgrass prairies of this little-traveled area are dotted with old hunting camps and hardwood hammocks, and inhabited by alligators, egrets, kites, and purple gallinules. After exploring the preserve, head to the Big Cypress gallery of world-famous Everglades photographer Clyde Butcher, where you can enjoy lunch under the cypress trees before a gallery walk and discussion.
February 18 - Fakahatchee Strand Preserve
Spend the day at Fakahatchee Strand Preserve, where you will have a unique opportunity to help the senior biologist and a local conservationist while they gather data for a critical turtle research project in the sloughs of this former cypress logging camp. After lunch, wade into a dark-water swamp in search of “charismatic microflora” with wonderful names like ladies’ tresses, ghost orchid, and fuzzy-wuzzy air plant.
February 19 - Naples (Ft Myers airport) / Home
Transfer to the Ft. Myers airport for flights home.