Ride down the Withlacoochee River

During my short stay at Gainesville, Florida I was searching for places to visit in and around the town. One of my friend suggested to go for a AirBoat ride in a place near Inverness. Going for a Boat ride is different but the thought of AirBoat ride excited me and others as well. Researched the location and called Wild Bill's Airboat Tours to reserve slots for 8 people for Sunday afternoon. It is an one hour ride along the Withlacoochee river.

Withlacoochee River commonly known as the Crooked River originates from central Florida's Swamp area, east of Polk City. It flows west, then north, and then turns northwest and finally west again before it empties into the Gulf of Mexico near Yankeetown.

There are different varieties of birds and alligators in and along the river and it was a pleasure to hunt for them during the ride. The different shades and the colors of water at different places, leaves and the woods around was truly amazing. The climate was also just appropriate.

We stopped at various places of the swamp and enjoyed the unspoiled beauty of nature with brief narration from the capt.

We learnt that there are huts alongside the swamps where people stay and they mainly engage in fishing. Most of them have their own small air boats. Other than the Wild Bills Airboat Tours, there are other groups as well who arrange for such rides.

For those who don't know what an AirBoat is; It is a flat bottomed boat driven by air propellers and mainly used in the shallow and marshy areas. The air propellers push the boat forward unlike motors in the normal boat. This prevents it from being stuck in the swamps.

A family riding the smaller one

Smaller boats glided along the narrow streams sprinkling the water along its sides and making a lot of noise.

Our capt. mentioned that today was a noisy day with many smaller boats in the river disturbing the peace of the area. Ours was a bigger boat with a capacity of around 30. While we were trying to spot the alligators in the swamp, noticed a smaller boat getting stuck by the side and few people were trying to get that out. More than finding the alligator in the park, the ride was the one which we enjoyed the most.

Can a wonderful Sunday afternoon end without a group pic? My answer would be no. After spending around an hour and enjoying the ride, we left the park with a group pic followed by Starbucks coffee and an hour of chatting on the way.

The Team