Flamingo Base Camp in Florida's Everglades National Park

Sierra Club Outings Trip # 13203A, Kayak


  • Camp beachside in the tropics
  • Enjoy local guides, lots of wildlife, and a variety of activities
  • Kayak around islands, mangrove tunnels, and the swamp 


  • All meals cooked and served by the leaders
  • Kayaks, kayaking gear, and instruction
  • A traditional Dixie-style New Year's


DatesDec 15–20, 2013
StaffPatrick Nichols

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Trip Overview

The Trip

At the southernmost corner of the eastern United States stands a rare natural marvel: the Everglades. This incredible land boasts endless horizons, an eternity of glittering water and waving grasses, and an infinity of life-forms that span this subtropical wilderness found nowhere else in the world. The Everglades is comprised of low islands (keys), tangled mangrove swamps, flat saw-grass prairies, pinewoods, and tropical hammocks, and is the third largest national park in the U.S. For sports fishermen, this is the world's best flats fishing, with spotted sea trout, red fish (red drum), black drum, tarpon, snook, blues, Jack crevals, and Spanish mackerel all nipping at the lines.

Each day we will make our way into the Glades or out into the bays for exploration. Paddling into the Glades, we will experience mangrove tunnels and stop to learn the three types of mangrove and their purposes. We will also see an abundance of unique wildlife. While keeping our distance, we will spend time identifying birds, reptiles, and mammals. As we make our way into Florida Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, we'll be able to observe the coastal makeup of Florida's subtropical beaches up close. This offers us yet another unique environment with its own separate flora and fauna. Each night we will return to our base camp for a huge meal that's served around the evening's campfire. Nights will be perfect for fishing, stargazing, and moonlight strolls. 


The leaders will make every reasonable effort to meet the goals outlined in the itinerary. Please keep in mind that weather or other conditions beyond our control may cause us to modify the itinerary in order to ensure the safety and well-being of the group.

Our rough itinerary will be as follows:

The leaders will pick up all participants from the Miami International Airport at 1 p.m. People driving should meet at 3 p.m. on day one at the Flamingo Ranger Station. A participant roster will be mailed out prior to the trip to assist participants in arranging carpools.

Day 1: Meet at the Flamingo group camp area at 4 p.m. We will have a brief orientation, followed by basic instruction in kayaking and loading kayaks. We will spend the early afternoon paddling and setting up our base camp. Before turning in, the leaders will discuss the week's agenda, answer any questions, and review a few of the environmental concerns regarding the Everglades.

Days 2-5: We will explore tropical beaches and endless mangrove tunnels, and have the opportunity to get extremely close to wildlife. There are dozens of water/canoe trails that we can choose to explore near our base camp. There will be ample time to fish or just relax on the beach.

Day 6: We will prepare a special breakfast to share during our last sunrise together. Afterward, we will pack up and head out. The trip will end at noon on the last day.



Getting There

The leaders will pick up participants from the Miami International Airport at 1 p.m. People driving should meet at 4 p.m. on day one at the Flamingo group camp area. A participant roster will be mailed out prior to the trip to assist participants in arranging carpools. 

Accommodations and Food

All meals will be prepared and -- with luck -- caught by the leaders. Meals will reflect local cuisine. Participants with special diets should contact the trip leader prior to the trip start. Accommodations will be at the campground at Flamingo. Our group campsite is near restrooms and the beach. 

Trip Difficulty

This trip is geared for adventurous beginners; however; a seasoned paddler will not be bored. Trip routes and daily itineraries will depend on weather, tides, and the strength of the group. Actual paddle times will be small, but playtime will be enormous. Boredom will not be an issue. On most days we shoot for 4-6 hours of paddling time.

This adventure will take us into a wilderness area with real wild animals, such as alligators, saltwater crocodiles, bears, snakes, panthers, and sharks. It is possible to avoid all contact with these creatures and to observe the creatures from a great distance. Please educate yourself about keeping a distance from all wild animals and the dangers involved with letting wild animals become comfortable around humans. If at any time during the trip you have any concerns, please approach the leaders.

Equipment and Clothing

A detailed equipment list will be sent with participant approval.

Since this is a wilderness trip please leave all electronic games, cell phones, watches, Palm Pilots, Walkmans, radios, or anything else that distracts from the natural environment at home or in your car. 



  • Grunwald, Michael, The Swamp.
  • Smith, Patrick, A Land Remembered.
  • Douglas, Marjory Stoneman, The River of Grass.
  • Brown, Loren G., Totch: A Life in the Everglades.



"Clearly a paradise in jeopardy," the Everglades is dying of thirst and other maladies. Upstream demand for water by the sugar industry and growing cities has slowed a much-heralded restoration program to a crawl. Promised federal funding has not been forthcoming. The national park is not over-visited, but off-road vehicles have scarred Big Cypress. "A culture of big swamp buggies, high-speed watercraft, and airboats does little to preserve the more fragile areas." Birding is still good, if only a shadow of what it used to be. "Rapid development on all sides has created an unpleasant, unattractive gateway to one of the planet's unique places." 

Sierra Club National Outings is an equal-opportunity provider and will operate under a permit from Everglades National Park.



It's not Patrick Nichols' 35 years of wilderness experience or his extensive background as an outdoor enthusiast and wilderness educator that distinguish his tours from the ordinary. It is the exquisite attention to detail: from gourmet cuisine to the intricacies of paddling on quiet waters propelled by kayak. He is an ACA instructor, has trained with Red Cross water safety and is a wilderness first responder. His calling is to use the quiet skills of his lifetime to benefit every traveler, to ensure his skills and knowledge are shared by every voyager with an open heart and a curious mind.

Assistant Leader:

Richard Deluga

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