The jungle was part of a swamp, as in a Florida Everglades wannabe. Thousands just like it, fed from underground springs and abundant rainfall, are a vital part of the fragile ecosystem of the state of Florida.
The wildlife in this sanctuary was as abundant as the Spanish moss covering the 2,000 year old Cyprus trees. The air was heavy with expectation, my imagination on overdrive as we slipped into the quiet solitude like interlopers in the night.
I wasn’t sure what I expected from our excursion down the Dora canal, but as a movie fan of Indiana Jones, surely our jungle excursion would be rife with danger and a cobweb or two. If the unknown didn’t grab me, I could see the ancient Cyprus, given half a chance, getting me with their gnarled fingers.
We glided smoothly through the murky waters as Captain Dave’s commentary and the pontoon’s motor cut the silence cleanly and efficiently.
A Blue Heron preening on the banks did go from relaxed to alert as we approached.
I wasn’t buying the appearance of civilization. Those homes along the banks of the canal were no guarantee the menu had changed.
The bottom line on Dora Canal Excursion:
Verdict: Awesome adventure! Who knew the Sunshine State had so much more to offer than sunshine and Disney.
How to Get There: The city of Mount Dora is located about 40 minutes northwest of Orlando, Florida. From US Route 75, take Route 44 East through Leesburg to the city of Tavares. Pick up Old US 441 to Mt. Dora and the Chamber of Commerce at 341 North Alexander Street.
Insider Information: I can't speak to the plethora of boating options available in the cities of Mt. Dora, Tavares and Eustic, but Captain Dave Kusterer was wonderful. His 90-minute narrated guided tour was "highly informative, lively, and personal." The $20 per person price tag was one of the best in the area. Bring a light jacket if you take this tour during the winter months. Be prepared to sweat it out if you go doing the summer months.
Nearby Food: We had a great lunch in Mt. Dora at the Oakwood Smokehouse and Grill (coming attraction), but the pickings are plentiful in downtown Mt. Dora.