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Wild and wonderful


Florida is one huge wildlife park, full of amazing land and sea creatures, more than 500 native species of birds and stunning flowers and fauna wherever you go


The state has three national parks, three national forests and many state parks and national wildlife refuges.


Each park has its own special attractions. Dry Tortugas National Park in the Florida Keys for example, 70 miles (113 km) from Key West, is packed with marine life and birds. It can be reached only by chartered plane or a daily boat excursion as the 100-sq mile (161-sq km) park consists of open water with seven small islands. Snorkelling is one way to explore its corals and reef fish but visitors who prefer dry land will find nearly 300 species of birds swooping in and out, and possibly see the large sea turtles that come ashore to bury their eggs. A tour of 19th Century Fort Jefferson is a good way to admire the plants of Garden Key, just one small part of the park’s magnificent vegetation.


The astonishing Everglades National Park, a World Heritage site, stretches over 1.5 million acres of South Florida and can be explored by airboat, tram tour, cycling, kayaking or trail walking.


It is home to many


remarkable creatures including crocodiles, alligators and tree frogs, and you may even spot one of the Florida panthers that live in the drier parts of the Everglades. Within mangroves are nearly 300 species of fish, crab and crayfish, as well as many species of reptiles and amphibians.


With binoculars at the ready, hit the self-guided Great Florida Birding Trail, which runs for 2,000 miles (3,218km) and includes 515 special bird-watching sites. The third national park is Biscayne, south of Miami, which is 95 percent water and where adventurous visitors can enjoy some of the best diving and snorkelling in the world. They may also spot the fascinating manatee, found in shallow, slow-moving rivers. Other places to spot these gentle herbivores include Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in Titusville, Three Sisters Springs


The Everglades National Park (top) covers more than 1.5 million acres (6,070 sq km) while the Apalachicola National Forest (facing) is 633,000 acres (2,562 sq km)


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