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Withlacoochee River Tour - Orlando / Florida Guide

Florida Guide > Other Florida

The Withlacoochee River originates in west-central Florida’s Green Swamp and is 86 miles (138 kilometers) long and is one of the few rivers in Florida that flows south to north. It’s Indian name has been translated to mean several things including but not limited to “the little great river”, “little big water”, and “crooked river”. Our tour of course did not encompass the entire length of the river, just a portion of it, traveling about two-and-a-half hours.

My family and I began our pontoon boat tour of the river by meeting up with our Captain and his boat at a wayside park in the city of Dunnellon in Marion County Florida . We were allowed to bring a cooler with snacks and/or lunch but no plastic baggies or soda cans were allowed and absolutely no alcohol (which wasn’t a problem) and we were told before embarking that we had to leave with all packaging we brought and that throwing anything out of the boat would not be tolerated. This not only makes good sense in everyday life but is extremely important in maintaining the pristine nature of the Withlacoochee and its banks. About half way through our tour the boat stopped at a riverside park where we were allowed to depart the boat to stretch our legs and use the restroom facilities, if needed.

Our Captain was very well educated on the history of the river and the town of Dunnellon and very knowledgeable about the land, vegetation, and wildlife. Along the way we encountered various species of waterfowl including the Snowy White Egrets with their “wispy” wings, Osprey, Vultures, Anhinga diving in the river for food then landing on tree branches and spreading their wings to dry out in the sun. Wood Storks, Great Blue Heron, Little Green Heron and White Ibis were wading in the water hoping to “score a meal”, just to mention a few of the species we saw. There were also plenty of alligators, turtles, otters and various species of fish, snakes and spiders. We were told it’s not uncommon to see deer and boar along the way, even though we didn’t.

Our guide was also very knowledgeable in the vegetation of the land depicting cypress trees with “air moss” flowing from them, cypress knees protruding out of the water, pines, palmettos, etc. and many different wildflowers, too many to name.

We traveled for long periods of time seeing nothing but nature and then homes would crop up along the shoreline. It gave us a good idea of what life in Florida was like before “Disney”.

We enjoyed our tour so much that we did it a second time. I highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys the outdoors. Don’t forget to take along your camera.

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