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paddling with women's travel group in Homosassa Springs
paddling with women's travel group in Homosassa Springs
manatee floating peacefully in water
woman smiling in green kayak Homosassa Springs florida
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baby crocodile Homosassa Springs florida

Paddling with Manatees

Destination: Homosassa Springs, FL

Who can resist these gentle giants in their winter home of Florida's spring-fed rivers?? On this trip we experience the manatees up close and personal in their natural habitat, viewing them through crystal clear waters as we sit above and among them in our kayaks. This is an ideal trip both for women who know they love paddling and for those who want to give kayaking a try: you'll learn basic kayak strokes on calm waters and by the end of the weekend you will be a competent and confident paddler. Even if you discover you don't like kayaking (which we doubt), the thrill of these wondrous creatures sticking their snouts out of the water beside your kayak, as if to be petted, is simply an amazing experience.

We've chosen two very different rivers to experience on this trip, the Homosassa and the Chassahowitzka. The Homosassa, wider and more developed, offers an excellent opportunity to see the manatees as they move in from the cooler ocean temperatures to the warmer waters of this spring fed river. The Chaz is a more primitive river with virtually no development along its shores. It has over 30 springs tucked away on her tiny tributaries and feeder streams. We'll explore just a few of these hidden gems in search of the manatees that hang there for the warmth of the springs. We'll also explore nooks and crannies to see the outstanding array of shorebirds wading, feeding and drying their wings: Great Ibis, Snowy Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Anhinga, Cormorant, and Wood storks all call this area home.

Highlights

  • Watching manatees in the crystal clear waters of the Homosassa & Chassahowitzka Rivers from kayaks
  • Learning/reviewing basic kayak strokes & becoming confident paddlers
  • Viewing an outstanding array of shorebirds such as the Great Ibis, Snowy Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Anhinga, Cormorant, Wood stork
  • Paddling kayaks in pristine and unspoiled beauty
  • Visiting Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park to learn more about the manatees & wildlife

Departures and Prices

January 21 to January 24, 2020
$1275.00 - FULL
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January 25 to January 28, 2020
$1275.00 - Available
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Inclusions

  • Experienced guides (minimum of 1 guide for 6 participants)
  • Three nights double occupancy lodging
  • All meals from lunch on the 1st day through breakfast on the last day
  • Round trip transportation from the Tampa, FL airport
  • Kayak rental and instruction
  • Entrance fees

Not included: Transportation to and from Tampa, alcoholic beverages, guide gratuities and travel insurance.

Details

We have rated this trip a 2 because, since it is both an instructional trip and full of opportunities to watch wildlife, the pace is slower. It is appropriate for active women in basic good health with sufficient mobility to get in and out of the kayak when necessary. Rating: 1 [2] 3 4 5

This trip combines the opportunity to learn or improve your kayaking skills with immersion into the unique wildlife of this area. In addition to manatees, there are outstanding bird watching opportunities - you may even be able to tell an anhinga from a cormorant by the time you leave! No previous paddling experience is needed - we'll teach you everything you need to know.

We spend all three nights at the Chassahowitzka Hotel which we will have to ourselves. Our hotel is a classic 'sportsman' hotel that has been owned by the same family on and off since 1910. It has recently been renovated to accommodated groups and individuals alike. It is situated next to a large oak tree which gives it a wonderful nostalgic Florida feel. The hotel has a lovely veranda for relaxing and watching the world go by.

The rooms are simple with one or two twin beds. The rooms do not have ensuite bathrooms. But there are plenty of shared bathrooms and showers in the hotel. There are 2 single rooms available at an additional cost. You can select these on your registration form. If they are not available the selection will be greyed out.

Below is the proposed itinerary for the trip. As is true on any adventure travel trip, plans for any specific day may be modified due to weather considerations, unforeseen circumstances, new opportunities, and group interests.

DAY 1

As is true on any adventure trip, this itinerary may be modified based on weather, tides, changes in conditions, group desires etc. While we cannot guarantee that you will see wild manatees, it is extremely likely based on previous experience.


We meet at the Tampa, FL airport at 10:00am (if you plan to arrive that morning, please make sure your plane arrives by 9:30am). Our drive to the Chassahowitzka Hotel is about 1.5 hours. After settling into our rooms, we will share a welcome picnic lunch and then head to the water for a couple of hours of instruction in our kayaks. Contrary to popular myth, kayaking does not require significant upper body strength; we'll teach you how to paddle safely, effectively, and efficiently so that you are not totally exhausted at the end of the day. This practice time will also help you get to know your boat and how to get it to go where you want it to. By the end of this session, you'll be ready to paddle with the manatees and enjoy your trip! After our time on the water we'll return to our rooms and our group dining area for a hearty meal and a discussion of our plans for the rest of the trip.


DAY 2

We'll spend our first full day on the Homosassa River. Leaving directly from the boat ramp at our resort, we head towards Monkey Island. Monkey Island is the home to several monkeys whose ancestors were left there after a Tarzan movie was filmed on the Homosassa River in 1937. Leaving Monkey Island we'll hug the shoreline and start watching for manatees. We'll learn to spot them by the soft exhalation of air as they stick their snout above the water to breathe. and by their form just below the surface of this clear water. If they are curious, they may come right up to us! Despite weighing multiple tons, manatees are very gentle and slow moving so they pose no danger to us.


We'll continue exploring the Homosassa to its end at the Homosassa Springs Wildlife State Park. After lunch back at the resort, we head back to the Park, this time by land. This little gem of a park is a great place to learn more about the manatees and the other birds and mammals in the area. We'll be able to see the recovering manatees and a variety of fish through the underwater viewing station. After spending a couple of hours in the park walking among the other animals and birds that also live in this area, we'll return to our rooms for some relaxation and showers. You might opt to hang out on the porch. Whatever you decide to do, we'll end the day with a fabulous meal in our group dining area.


DAY 3
Today we'll explore another spring fed river, the Chassahowitzka or 'the Chaz'. The Chaz is very primitive and feels ancient. You'll find yourself wondering if a T-Rex is going to stick its head over the Spanish moss draped palm trees or if a brontosaurus will be munching on the marsh grasses we paddle through. The Chaz has over 30 springs, some of which are well hidden and hard to reach. We'll pick a few and paddle to them in our kayaks in search of the manatees that like to gather in the spring's warm water. The Chaz's waters are crystal clear, abundant with colorful fish as you look towards the bottom. The springs are turquoise blue and beautiful to behold, with or without manatees. As we explore the Chaz we'll also watch for shore birds feeding in the waters. If we're lucky, we may even see a Yellow Crested Night Heron.
After our day of paddling we'll return to our resort to shower and change before going to Three Sisters Spring, where we can walk out on a boardwalk to three different springs where manatees hang out. Tonight we'll go out for our farewell dinner.
DAY 4
After a hearty breakfast we'll pack up and leave our riverside resort for one last experience of the area. This time we'll spend about 2 hours in the woods, hiking Rook Trail in the Withcaloochee State Forest. This 2.7 mile trail is a beautiful hike away from any sign of human development and a peaceful end to our trip, as well as get a chance to stretch our legs before our flights home. We'll be walking on a mix of upland sandhill habitat with hardwood swamp, pine forest and open meadow. After our hike and a few last words, we'll head back to the Tampa airport. You'll be back by 1:30pm and can fly out after 2:30 PM.

*These are the unfiltered reviews of women who have been on this trip in answer to the question "Did this trip meet your expectations?". We take reviews very seriously and often tweak itineraries based on feedback. Please feel free to contact us about any questions you have.

Kayaking in those rivers was great, Meeting all the nice ladies is always a highlight.

Paddling with Manatees 1/23/2019-1/26/2019


Guides were amazing and the manatees were bountiful!

Paddling with Manatees 1/23/2019-1/26/2019


Kayaking new rivers, seeing wildlife

Paddling with Manatees 1/23/2019-1/26/2019


Laurie and Wendy worked as a team in perfect balance and a compliant to each other. Very caring, professional, flexible, very knowledgeable , genuine, kind and true to who they are and allowed us to be who we are. Each day we had many laughs and smiles.

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2019-1/22/2019


The people (guides

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2019-1/22/2019


The highlight was just what the trip was called - Paddling with the Manatees. The Homosassa Springs Wildlife Center was very interesting. Because of potential thunderstorms this was done in the morning rather than afternoon

Paddling with Manatees 1/23/2019-1/26/2019


Great guides. Well planned. Wonderful group of women!

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2019-1/22/2019


Seeing the manatees, all kinds of cool birds, kayaking down beautiful rivers I don’t know if it’s always this way, or I lucked out and got a really good group my first time. We all got along so well and just laughed and laughed..I loved it!

Paddling with Manatees 1/23/2019-1/26/2019


Kayaking was the best part of the trip.

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2019-1/22/2019


We saw manatee! I was terribly afraid we wouldn't see any; or I wouldn't see any. I'm still sort of living in the Thursday 1/24 paddle. Easily that was a trip rating of 3 paddle, but it showed me I'm WAY stronger than I think I am. The trip overall was just absolutely amazing. Never mind I got to travel with my grandmother for the first time in 10 years!

Paddling with Manatees 1/23/2019-1/26/2019


Of course, seeing the Manatees up close but just the fun we have together. This was a special trip as I brought my granddaughter with me. This was her introduction to women's travel.

Paddling with Manatees 1/23/2019-1/26/2019


A little disappointed in the amount of kayaking. In the kayaks only 1/2 of each day for a couple hours. Would prefer more kayaking, as it was a "paddling" trip.

Paddling with Manatees 1/23/2019-1/26/2019


Great guides. Very knowledgeable and interested in our safety and comfort. Great group of fellow travelers..

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2019-1/22/2019


Paddling the Chassahowitzka - amazing.

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2019-1/22/2019


FABULOUS!! The manatees were amazing, our guides, Laurie and Wendy were the best--very professional, excellent cooks, friendly, funny, supportive, educational, etc. Even when the weather forced a change in itinerary, they handled it without any stress, as if it was supposed to happen that way.

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2019-1/22/2019


The kayaking was nice and in varied locations, nicely mixed with a little hiking and a chance to see the manatees and other wildlife from land, as well as from the kayaks. Even though one day we were unable to kayak due to weather, we did alternative things that were fine. The evenings with the group and the guides were fabulous, fun, with lots of laughs and good food and good company. Our two guides did a great job of bringing us all together as a group in a very short length of time. This was one of my best trips with you for group bonding. Everyone was friendly, positive and supportive. Our guides were great facilitators as well as participants in our group activities.

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2019-1/22/2019


This was the best trip ever!! To paddle with the manatees, the friendships with Laurie, Wendy and the other 10 members of the group were priceless. Paddling down the Chaz was a beautiful experience, the peacefulness of the water, the birds--maneuvering through that narrow shallow passageway was a bit of a challenge for me, but I did it!! I would book the trip again for next year except it's full and there are a few more trips I'd like to try.

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2019-1/22/2019


I loved seeing the Manatees.

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2019-1/22/2019


Havin an experience I have never had before - kayaking with manatees, reconnecting with friends and meeting other women. It was a great group of women and guides!!

Paddling with Manatees 1/25/2018-1/28/2018


The kayaking and the manatees were definite highlights.

Paddling with Manatees 1/25/2018-1/28/2018


Being surrounded in my kayak by manatees.

Paddling with Manatees 1/25/2018-1/28/2018


Learning how to kayak from excellent guides

Paddling with Manatees 1/25/2018-1/28/2018


This was my first ever group traveling event that did not include my husband. I was delighted to learn that other woman share my desire to travel "solo"! The comradery was outstanding.

Paddling with Manatees 1/25/2018-1/28/2018


the kayaking and manatee sightings at both Homosassa and Chaz rivers

Paddling with Manatees 1/25/2018-1/28/2018


The trip exceeded all my expectations and was superb! Loved the kayaking on Saturday into the more intimate area!

Paddling with Manatees 1/25/2018-1/28/2018


It was a great trip. The guides were helpful and patient. The area was beautiful, and the activities were fun. The food was also very good.

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2017-1/22/2017


The Manatees of course along with beautiful weather. Meeting women from different parts of the country

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2017-1/22/2017


I thought the first day of kayaking (manatees) would be the highlight of the trip, but the second day of kayaking was incredible!!! Loved it so much that I am trying to juggle my schedule so I can sign up for the AGC March Florida kayak trip!!!

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2017-1/22/2017


The highlight was that everything was taken care of for you and no planning, thinking, or worrying was needed. It was great! I just had to be at the location at the time specified.

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2017-1/22/2017


I would like to start by saying that our guides were fabulous; the other travelers were lovely. Because seeing the manatees is dependent on the weather, perhaps there could be another "enticement" for the trip. The sighting of the manatees would be a special bonus.

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2017-1/22/2017


Seeing birds, jumping into spring water, three sisters spring

Paddling with Manatees 1/19/2017-1/22/2017


  1. Where do we eat?

    The breakfasts and some dinners will be provided by the lodge. Before you leave in the morning you the guides will put out lunch 'fixings' and you will take a packed lunch. You'll go out for dinner one night and other nights relax in the lodge and have dinner there.
  2. What dietary preferences or restrictions can you accommodate on this trip?

    If we know well in advance, we can accommodate vegetarian, lactose-free, and gluten-sensitive diets although choices may be limited. We cannot guarantee a completely gluten-free diet and we cannot provide a kitchen guaranteed to be free of cross-contamination. If you are vegan, we ask that you bring some additional protein bars; and if you are gluten-sensitive, please bring some gluten-free snacks. If you have severe allergies, Celiac disease and/or other significant dietary restrictions, please call the office before you register.
  3. I will be coming by myself. Do I need to pay a single supplement?

    You only need to pay a single supplement if you want to guarantee you have your own room. Otherwise we'll pair you up with someone and then switch roommates every time we switch lodging.
  4. I have never kayaked before is this the right trip for me?

    This is the perfect trip for new and more experienced kayakers. The first day there will be instruction on safety and basic kayaking strokes. The waters are calm and the boats are stable.
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