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There’s relatively gentle downhill skiing — not as precipitous as in the Alps — and the more sedate but equally challenging sport of cross- country skiing. A well-planned ski route should take you to a ‘ski boot dance’ for an hour or so, either in a hotel or a dance hall apparently in the middle of nowhere. Then it’s back outside onto the skis and home. Those after speed thrills can go

snowmobiling and ice-skating. Or try husky sledging, either for the day or as part of an overnight stay in a wilderness cabin. You go as a group with a guide, but drive your own team. More gentle pursuits include ice-fi shing or rambling through the quiet forests on snowshoes spotting elk and…was that a wolf? Lapland is a truly unique experience. And don’t worry about the cold. At

the end of a long day there’s always the luxury of a good Finnish sauna and a cold beer.

Liquid landscapes Ron Toft reveals the enchantment and excitement of the Florida Everglades.


ubbed ‘river of grass’, the world renowned Florida Everglades

is a vast and varied ecosystem stretching from Lake Okeechobee in central southern Florida to the mangrove estuaries of Florida Bay at the southern tip of the Sunshine State. Only part of this ecosystem lies within the 3,800 square miles of the Everglades National Park — a wildlife wonderland just an hour-and-a-half’s drive from Fort Lauderdale. There are lots of things to do in

the park, from bird-watching, cycling and walking to canoeing, ranger-led walks, coastal boat trips and tram tours of Shark Valley Slough, which include a stop at an observation tower from which there are stunning panoramic views. Airboat rides are restricted to the northern part of the park off the Tamiami Trail which is a 273 miles stretch of highway US41 through a primeval paradise. The critter that everyone wants to see in the Everglades is the legendary American alligator. Wherever there is water, there’s a chance of spotting one of these evolutionarily ancient


Florida Everglades

creatures. In fact, sometimes it seems as if every roadside ditch has at least one resident ‘gator’. It’s well worth driving the full length

of the state road 9336 through the park to explore the many trails and other stopping points along the way. Allow plenty of time as you will almost certainly want to stop every few hundred metres to see, perhaps, a ‘gator’ or armadillo at the side of the road, or perhaps a fl ock of wild turkey or black vultures devouring their lunch. The wildlife-rich Anhinga Trail

incorporates a boardwalk with information boards to help visitors identify some of the species likely to be encountered, including the Anhinga birds. Also called snake birds because of their long necks and spear-like bills, Anhingas can often be seen sitting on a waterside perch with their wings outstretched, drying their feathers in the warmth of the sun. The best time of the year to visit

the Everglades is in the dry season, which is December through to April, when skies are blue, humidity is low, temperatures are not excessively high and wildlife watching is spectacular. Pioneering conservationist Marjory

Stoneman Douglas described the Everglades as being like nothing else on Earth — “remote, never wholly known.” A myriad of amazing creatures continue to fl ourish in these wild wetlands and visitors are very privileged to be able to share their extraordinary environment while holidaying in Florida.

Boating in the Everglades

There’s no better time — Book now


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Alligator, Everglades

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