About This Trip
- Named one of National Geographic Traveler's "50 Tours of a Lifetime" in 2015!
- Snorkel alongside large groups of manatees in crystal-clear springs.
- Stay on a historic, private, family-owned tree farm with 1,100 acres of sustainably managed habitat that is home to abundant native wildlife.
- Enjoy multiple activities including guided nature hikes or airboat excursions, and learn about local ecology and conservation.
This educational, 4-day trip (which is a great trip for families) allows you to snorkel with Florida's manatees while also learning about their ecology and conservation. Participants stay in historic cabins at Espedeco Tree Farm, a private, family-owned property with >1,100 acres of sustainably managed habitat. The highlight of our trip will be two mornings spent snorkeling with manatees in their warm water winter refuge. The manatees are part of the Crystal River herd, which makes up roughly 25 percent of the United States' manatee population.
In the afternoons, we will explore the grounds of Espedeco Tree Farm, and you will have the option to take a naturalist guided airboat excursion (at an additional cost). Espedeco's forests protect a disappearing habitat where many of Florida's native species can still be found in abundance, including alligators, bobcats, endangered gopher tortoises, armadillos, opossums, white tailed deer, foxes, and a wide variety of birds including osprey, owls, and hawks. Espedeco's open fields and wild meadows are also home to many species of butterflies.
Through this experience, participants will have an opportunity for full immersion in this Florida ecosystem and will get to see that sometimes you do not have to go across the globe to see vital wildlife communities and learn about conservation challenges.
Notes on Trip Costs
We will not be offering this expedition in 2021. Please contact us for information about 2022 departures.
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Founded in 1969, Oceanic Society is America’s oldest 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to ocean conservation. As pioneers of “eco travel,” our expeditions have been designed to directly support our mission. They not only positively impact our travelers, but also the people, places, and wildlife we go to see. Trip fees from this trip support Florida non-profit organizations that work to conserve manatees or the special habitats that they require. In past years, both Save a Manatee and Friends of Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park have been the designated recipients of group donations. We work with Friends of Homosassa on all of our manatee expeditions, and our groups are visited by one of their wildlife experts. And Oceanic Society's earnings from this trip are invested back into our global research and conservation programs.
Dates & Prices
Day 1: Arrival
Arrive to Espedeco Tree Farm (Inverness, Florida) any time after 4pm for dinner and orientation (including USFWS manatee orientation video). The closest airports are in Tampa and Orlando, just over an hour away.
Day 2: Snorkeling with Manatees & Exploring the Farm
Depart at 8:00 am for the boat harbor. Board a dedicated manatee viewing boat and spend the full morning snorkeling with and viewing manatees (with a personal tour guide/naturalist). Return to the tree farm at around 1pm for lunch. After lunch explore the conservation areas of the sustainable tree farm, followed by dinner and a seminar on manatee ecology/conservation. Possible dusk owl walk.
Day 3: Snorkeling with Manatees & Hiking or Airboat Tour
Depart at 8:00 am for the boat harbor. Board a dedicated manatee viewing boat and spend the full morning snorkeling with and viewing manatees (with a personal tour guide/naturalist). Return to the tree farm at around 1pm for lunch. After lunch, relax or hike on the farm, or take an optional swamp airboat tour (at an additional cost), followed by dinner.
Day 4: Departure
After breakfast, guests depart the Tree Farm by 9am.
AccommodationsParticipants stay in restored, historic houses and cabins on the private, family-owned, 100-year-old Espedeco Tree Farm, which protects 1,100 acres of vital and vanishing habitats where many native species are still found in abundance. Espedeco's forests protect a disappearing habitat, where many of Florida's native species can still be found in abundance, including alligators, bobcat, endangered gopher tortoises, armadillo, opossum, white tailed deer, foxes, and a wide variety of birds including osprey, owls, and hawks. Espedeco's open fields and wild meadows are also home to many species of butterflies. The property formerly belonged to the Southern Phosphate Development Company and contained a phosphate mine and company housing.
Your expedition will be led by one or more of the following expert naturalist guides: