From the moment we began paddling our kayaks through the GTM National Estuarine Research Reserve, I knew I'd stumbled upon something fantastic. I have put off writing about this experience because I don't believe I can do justice to this adventure. I have a deep desire to represent Ripple Effect with the utmost respect & encourage other travelers to spend a moment of their trip on the water with a Ripple Effect Guide.
I was fortunate enough to receive a complimentary tour. But, let me assure you that I believe this to be one of the grandest things to do in the St Augustine area and possibly one of the most fantastic things to experience in the entire Southeast. The fact that my tour was complimentary does not influence my opinion of this experience.
Our tour lasted approximately 2-3 hours. I'm not really sure as I lost track of time in the magic of learning about this gorgeous ecosystem. I walked away with a great respect for our guide, Brandon, who shared his extensive knowledge about this wondrous environment. He was quick to give us details about the wildlife we viewed in their natural habitat. My oldest son spotted a unique Cannonball Jellyfish, which Brandon taught us about, before we even shoved off! We were able to view wild dolphins near our kayaks, a variety of birds, a sea slug, fiddler crabs, and others. It was such a privilege to be led out into this unique area of the world and have access to this person with such a wealth of information for us to learn.
We learned that this area we were kayaking, The Guana Tolomato Matanzas National Estuarine Research Reserve, is an environment like no other in the world and we gained a great appreciation for the plant and animal life as Brandon taught us about their lives, here on planet earth.
The kayaking wasn't difficult and the guide expressed that he wanted everyone to have a good time. They provided a tow-line if you tired out along the way. Our tour took place in the morning, before the hottest heat of the day. Ripple Effect offers many options for tours including morning and sunset. This was the perfect adventure for our family, with two boys ages 10 & 11. We all came away from our Ripple Effect Eco Tour with a rich experience that impacted our lives, forever.
Let me reiterate here that this was truly an experience that I'm afraid I cannot convey in words, photos or even the video I took. It involves a person's senses... seeing with your own eyes, listening to the lessons offered by the guide, and experiencing the environment. It's a very personal experience that brought me a closer connection with the earth, with nature and truly drives a spirit of wonder and conservation.
I will be forever grateful to Ripple Effect Eco Tour & Brandon for sharing this piece of planet earth with me in such a close and personal way! Now, I don't have an Ripple Effect Eco Tour to give away.. But, the assistant manager, Eric Ziecheck has offered to "show some love," to my readers who mention the article. This is absolutely an experience you do not want to miss. Visit their website to plan your adventure.
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