20896
Naples
Secrets of Southwest Florida: From the Gulf to the Glades
Discover Naples and the Everglades as you explore world-class museums, historical landmarks, unique ecosystems and conservation efforts alongside new friends and scholarly experts.
Rating (4.33)
Program No. 20896RJ
Length
6 days
Starts at
1,399
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6 days
5 nights
13 meals
5 B 4 L 4 D
Getting There
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DAY
1
Check-In, Registration, Welcome Dinner, Orientation
Naples, FL
D
Hyatt House Naples/5th Avenue

Afternoon: Hotel Check-in: Available from 3:00pm. Program Registration: After you have your room assignment, come over to the Road Scholar table in the lobby to register with the program staff and get your welcome packet containing your name-tag, up-to-date schedule that reflects any last-minute changes, and other important information. If your arrival is delayed, please ask for your packet when you check in.

Dinner: Enjoy a plated meal at the hotel and get to know your fellow Scholars.

Evening: Orientation: The Group Leader will greet everyone with a warm welcome and lead introductions. We will review the up-to-date program schedule and any changes, discuss roles and responsibilities, logistics, safety guidelines, emergency procedures, and answer any questions you may have. Free time is reserved for your personal independent exploration. Please be aware that program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

DAY
2
AM Lecture, Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary, Airboat Ride
Naples, FL
B,L,D
Hyatt House Naples/5th Avenue

Activity note: Walking approximately 1 mile along boardwalk. Getting on/off an airboat.

Breakfast: At the hotel, enjoy a variety of hot and cold items on the buffet, including scrambled eggs, breakfast meats, potatoes, pancakes, yogurt, oatmeal, fruit, coffee and tea, as well as an omelette station.

Morning: Our program begins with a lecture from the former director of the Audubon Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary. Topic: "Usual and Unusual Wildlife of South Florida." We then depart for Corkscrew. On the boardwalk, a naturalist will provide commentary and lead us around parts of this 14,000-acre sanctuary managed by the National Audubon Society, who help maintain native plants and animals, and preserve the natural processes that have been occurring within this eco-system for thousands of years. A 2.25-mile raised boardwalk takes us through several distinct habitats including the largest remaining virgin bald cypress forest in North America. Wildlife commonly residing here at different times of the year include birds from Anhinga to woodpeckers, butterflies, frogs and other amphibians, mammals ranging from squirrels to bears, and reptiles such as alligators, lizards, snakes and turtles.

Lunch: Enjoy a boxed lunch on the Corkscrew grounds. Bottled water included.

Afternoon: Board the motor coach and arrive at Lake Trafford, where you will enjoy a beautiful air boat ride. Learn about the local wildlife from your Captain. Sightseeing varies throughout the year and can include alligators, a variety of birds and plants.

Dinner: Enjoy this evening's dinner at a local restaurant near the hotel. Available beverages include coffee, tea and water.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
3
Rookery Bay, Big Cypress, Museum of Everglades, Marsh Trail
Naples, FL
B,L,D
Hyatt House Naples/5th Avenue

Activity note: Walking and standing for up to 2 hours in museums. Walking about 0.5 miles, 1 hour over an asphalt and hard-packed dirt trail. The observation tower has approximately 20 steps and a handrail.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: We'll start the day by boarding the motor coach for a visit to the Rookery Bay. The Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve is a prime example of a nearly pristine subtropical mangrove forested estuary. You will have an opportunity to walk the trails and spend time at the visitor center. Getting back on the motor coach, we'll depart to Big Cypress Swamp National Preserve. The Big Cypress is an amazing place and very different from the Everglades in the East, notable for its 500-year-old cypresses, whose roots are specially adapted to grow underwater for months at a time. During a visit to the Welcome Center, you will hear from a Ranger and have time to walk through some of the 18 exhibits describing the history, hydrology, and habitats.

Lunch: Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant in the Everglades.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll depart for the Museum of the Everglades. The museum is devoted to displaying local history from early Native American times to the present as well as exhibits of works by local and regional artists. You will have an opportunity to explore the Museum of the Everglades, and hear a lecture by a local expert. Departing from the Museum, we will head to the Ten Thousand Islands Wildlife Reserve for an instructed walk with a naturalist. The Ten Thousand Islands is where the end of Florida's peninsula breaks up into thousands of tiny mangrove islands divided by narrow estuaries. It is a haven for birds and marine species alike. Our walk on the Marsh Trail will lead us through the more inland prairie portion of the park, where we will reach the observation tower, which offers an elevated view.

Dinner: Returning to the hotel, we'll enjoy a buffet dinner as a group.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
4
Conservancy of Southwest Florida
Naples, FL
B,L
Hyatt House Naples/5th Avenue

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Today's adventure is devoted to the Conservancy of Southwest Florida. This morning you will be introduced to the Conservancy's mission to protect the area's unique natural environment and how its members work to accomplish this. You will learn about the wondrous ecosystems of Southwest Florida as you walk through the exhibits in the Dalton Discovery Center with a naturalist. In the classroom you will hear a lecture on "Predators of the Sky". Join one of the Conservancy’s experts to learn more about these unique birds of prey and discover why they are critical to Southwest Florida’s ecosystem.

Lunch: Lunch at the Conservancy.

Afternoon: After lunch, enjoy an expert-led walk of the Wildlife Exhibit. Learn about the Conservancy's wildlife rehabilitation practices. Visit their ambassador animals that are former animal patients who are unable to return to the wild because of the extent of their injuries. Learn about how to prevent injuries to wildlife. Depart via motorcoach and return to the hotel. The rest of the afternoon and evening is at your leisure.

Dinner: Take this evening to explore the local cuisine of Naples on your own.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
5
Boat Excursion, Smallwood Store, Shark Valley Tram
Naples, FL
B,L,D
Hyatt House Naples/5th Avenue

Activity note: Getting on and off a small boat.

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Start the day early with a boat excursion with an expert naturalist. Early mornings are one of the most opportune times for wildlife sightings. Depending on the weather, we can hope to see a wide variety of the local inhabitants, including manatees, dolphins, bald eagles, herons, ospreys, sea turtles and more! Enjoy a visit to the historic Smallwood Store. The Smallwood Store was once a key trading post on Chokoloskee Island. Learn about the extensive history behind the Store.

Lunch: Enjoy lunch at a local restaurant.

Afternoon: After lunch, we'll board the motor coach for Shark Valley. Shark Valley lies in the heart of the "True Everglades," or the river of grass, that stretches 100 miles from Lake Okeechobee to the Gulf of Mexico. During a ride in an open-air tram your naturalist guide will share “hidden” aspects of the ecosystem that help make the Everglades a world-renowned wetland. We will have an opportunity at the half-way point of the tram ride, to see tranquil vistas of the park from a 45-foot-high observation deck, with views extending 20 miles in all directions. A gradual ramp provides access to the tower and each deck offers a chance to view something different.

Dinner: Enjoy a farewell dinner with the group at a local restaurant.

Evening: At leisure.

DAY
6
Wrap-up, Program Concludes
Naples, FL
B

Breakfast: At the hotel.

Morning: Enjoy a final farewell wrap-up with your group leader. This concludes our program. We hope you enjoy Road Scholar learning adventures and look forward to having you on rewarding programs in the future. Please join our Facebook page and share photos of your program. Visit us at www.facebook.com/rsadventures. Best wishes for all your journeys!