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Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary
Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary is located northeast of Naples, Florida. Whilst visiting J. N. “Ding” Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel Island, during our recent tour of Florida, the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was recommended to us. As we were heading south towards Naples anyway, and had time to spare, we decided to deviate from our route and experience it for ourselves.
You will need to allow about two to three hours during your visit to walk along the raised boardwalk. It stretches for 2 ¼ miles and takes you through four different environments: pine flatwoods, wet prairie, cypress forest, and marsh. The best way to appreciate the walk is to buy the guidebook which lists and illustrates the various plants, trees, mammals, insects, fish and birds that you may encounter along the way. If you have forgotten to take your binoculars along, you are able to rent them from the Visitor Centre for a small fee.
If you prefer not to buy the guidebook there are lots of information signs along the boardwalk and plenty of volunteer naturalists to answer any questions you may have. For those who do not wish to walk the full length of the boardwalk there is a shorter trail of one mile.
Wildlife sightings all depend on the time of the year that you visit but you will more than likely always see an alligator. Even the weather and the time of day can make a difference. There are plenty of benches along the boardwalk to sit and rest and enjoy the surroundings. Rain shelters are also provided for those short summer downpours. Deer, raccoons and sometimes black bears are present in the autumn when the palmetto berries ripen. Woodpeckers, mockingbirds and the red-shouldered hawk can be seen all through the year.
We were lucky enough to spot a great egret, anhinga, white ibis and little blue herons during our visit. Huge five hundred year old trees soar above you; some of them are literally covered with air plants and orchids.
There’s no need to worry about mosquitoes during the hotter months, there are plenty of natural predators in the swamp, mostly mosquito fish and dragonflies.
It can get very hot walking along the boardwalk, especially during the summer months, so I recommend taking plenty of drinks and sunscreen.
Adult admission is $10, students $6, children (aged 6 to 18) $4 and children under 6 are free. The sanctuary is open every day of the year except in bad weather.
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