The Ocklawaha River in Central Florida is an area of great biodiversity and one of Florida’s most pristine natural environments. The Ocklawaha River flows north from Central Florida and, along with the St. John’s River forms the boundary of the Ocala National Forest. Wildlife abounds along the River and its many tributaries, including species that are unique to this particular area of Florida. Our journey will take you along the river and its tributaries where we will explore this natural environment, hopefully enjoying many unique sighting while relaxing, hiking, swimming, bird watching, or fishing at each of the areas we explore. We will also visit Silver Spring, the largest artesian spring in the world.
Potential wildlife sightings include Alligators, Rhesus monkeys, deer, bear, Boar, Cougars, River Otters, Water Moccasins, armadillos, beavers, bobcats, foxes, minks, moles, opossums, otters, panthers, pocket gophers, rabbits, raccoons, seals, shrews, skunks, squirrels, weasels, Gar, Bass, Perch, Catfish, anoles, geckos, skinks, turtles, mudpuppies, newts, salamanders, sirens, frogs and toads. We may also see as many as 30 or more species of birds including great blue herons, ibis, egrets, osprey, bald eagle, several species of duck, woodpeckers, hawks, and more.
Arrive and meet up in Orlando
Upon your arrival at Orlando International Airport, a member of our staff will meet you and drive you to a nearby lakeside hotel. After checking in at the hotel we will have a group meeting in the early evening to get acquainted and discuss our upcoming adventure. The rest of the evening is yours to relax and rest after your flight, or explore the many fine restaurants and attractions within walking distance of the hotel. Dinner is not included on this first night.
Launch kayaks and paddle to Silver Springs
Today we will explore Silver Springs, the largest artesian spring in the world. Silver Spring is home to an abundance of wildlife including wild rhesus monkeys and many species of birds.
After an early breakfast, we will drive north to the Ocklawaha River which forms the western border of the Ocala National Forest. Upon arrival we will launch our kayaks and equipment on the river and proceed to paddle north downriver. When we reach the Silver River tributary we will turn west and paddle the 4 miles to Silver Springs, the world’s largest artesian spring. We will lunch and a park on the Silver River and hope to spy rhesus monkey, who only inhabit this area of the Silver River, or many of the other birds and mammals that call this area home. After lunch we will enjoy a leisurely and relaxing journey back down the Silver River to the Ocklawaha. Mid-afternoon we will make camp at one of the bends in the river and spend the rest of the afternoon exploring the woods, fishing, swimming, or just plain relaxing. We will enjoy a camp side gourmet dinner and fall asleep to the peaceful sounds of the forest.
*Approximate total miles travelled day 2: 12
More paddling along Ocklawaha River and visit to a state park
We will paddle further down the river, enjoying wildlife sightings as we go. Birders will enjoy sightings of heron, storks and other water fowl fishing along the banks. Fishers will have a chance to catch gar up to 3 ft. long and bass as large as 5 pounds. You will definitely see them- but can you catch them?
After a riverside breakfast we will continue to paddle down the calm winding river through the forest. There is ample opportunity for first-class birding and fishing along the way. We will alight at one of the sandy beaches along the river where we will have lunch, swim and explore the forest, before continuing our paddle down the Ocklawaha River. We will stop at a state park along the river to take advantage of the restrooms and outdoor showers. After we have freshened up, we will continue our paddle down river. Late afternoon we will make camp at a riverside clearing. After making camp, guests are free to hike, swim, fish or relax until dinner time. After enjoying another gourmet meal we will fall into peaceful sleep as we recount another thrilling day of adventure.
*Approximate total miles travelled Day 3: 10
Last Day on the River
Today we will journey to our extraction point, enjoying wildlife sightings along the way as we paddle along the oak and cypress forest. We will hike and explore the marshlands along Lake Ocklawaha.
After breakfast and camp breakdown we will get back on the river for more paddling and wildlife sightings. By lunch time we will have reached our extraction point along the marshlands where Lake Ocklawaha begins. After lunch we will have time to explore the marshlands before packing up our gear and returning to the hotel in the mid afternoon. The rest of the afternoon guests are free to relax and enjoy the creature comforts of the hotel. We will then plan to meet for dinner at a nearby restaurant and enjoy each others company as we discuss our journey.
* Dinner not included
*Approximate total miles travelled Day 4: 8
Checkout and Transportation to Orlando
Today after checkout, our staff will take you to Orlando International Airport, or another nearby destination to continue your travels.
What we provide:
We provide kayaks, paddles, tents, bedrolls, sleeping bags, flashlights, cooking equipment, medical equipment, sun block, bug spray, and all meals for the river portion of the trip. We also provide transportation to and from Orlando International Airport, and to and from the hotel to the drop off and extraction sites.
We ask that you bring climate appropriate clothing, swimwear, rugged footwear, and personal effects. You may also wish to bring fishing equipment and license, camera, binoculars, masks, fins, and snorkels, sunglasses, and a sunhat.
Please refer to our weather chart for help determining climate appropriate clothing throughout the year.