We think that smart, modern couples wanting to connect should look first for an adventure when travelling. As much as we love the rest and relaxation of beach holidays, nothing connects you better than a wilderness adventure. Forget the “bus tours you would send your parents on to look at crumbling churches”. You don’t always need to go wow on holiday, but you should see and do things that make you go whoa!
Such is the case when we go lizard hunting. I don’t mean the tiny lizards that scurry underfoot when we are out on the deck in our house in Florida. They are cool, but the lizards we are seeking tend to be quite a bit bigger.
You could say that we have a mild obsession with the genus crocodilian. Living dinosaurs that you can throw hot dogs to. At least you could throw hot dog wieners to the many swimming or lounging alligators at Gatorland. Gatorland is the 50-year-old reptile farm just south of Orlando, Florida. Think part amusement park, part education center and a huge nature habitat and breeding ground for the American Alligator. The Park does shows, has a good selection of venomous snakes along with the only cache of white alligators (not albino but white) known in the world. They have a good demonstration of gator wrestling with a couple of southern comedians who play the part well.
But what was interesting was the variety of sub-species of crocodilians they have on site. They have a number of Cuban crocodiles, a few caiman, a dwarf crocodile and our favorites, the Nile croc. We hung out and got this great video of the three Niles eating those aforementioned hotdogs.
We have gotten up close and personal with some big Niles during our visit to South Africa. We were warned not to go too close to the waterways in Africa, and we witnessed a large Nile crocodile from our cottage while on safari overlooking Mkuze Falls in the KwaZulu-Natal region. At night under the waterfalls the whole place had the feel of a Jurassic Park experience. But we got much closer than that. One of the highlights of our African tour was the day spent at the crocodile farm outside of Pennington, South Africa. One of the big sugar companies discovered they could make more money farming crocodile skins than planting sugar cane. So the farm doubled as a tourist destination. Only simple chain-link fences separated more than 300 full sized crocodiles in massive pens from adventurous blondes. When one apparently sleeping crocodile had a claw length through fence, Sue bravely wanted to see if it would notice her touching its toe with the end of her sandal. It definitely noticed and Sue jumped about four feet back. They fed the crocs sawed up beef and horse in big chunks and hearing them eat sounded like gun shots when they snapped. With 5,000 psi of pressure, the crocodile has the strongest bite in the animal kingdom. Their snap is far more ferocious than a great white shark or hyena and Sue got closer than was comfortable. Our Zulu guide at Mkuze says that crocodiles kill thousand of people a year from Botswana to Cape Town.
Our current adventure is searching for the king 14 foot male alligator living a five minute drive from our Kissimmee house on Lake Toho Florida. We love the air boat rides through the lake and on our first ride saw at least 15 alligators over 6 feet, (but not the big, big one) along with some babies and hissing mothers. Forget Disney, air boating with alligators is the real roller coaster ride. We are back again this week to check out the apparent usual haunts for this granddaddy gator. An alligator can hide in 31 cm of water and like the bushman in Africa said, “it isn’t the crocodile you can see that you have to worry about, it the one you can’t see”.