Dear Steve and the best tour guide ever Stevie,
There may not be enough that I can say to rely the message of how great our tour of the Everglades was with you! From the moment I spoke with you over the phone to the long goodbye at our car, it was amazing!! Your knowledge of the Everglades was both educational and fun!! The bugs and dust are easily forgotten the minute you start to move in your swamp buggy! We felt very confident in your ability and knowledge to keep us safe and have a most wonderful time!! We met you as our tour guide but left as friends!! Anyone who misses this opportunity is truly missing out! We will be back again in August, (I've already started planning.) I can not thank you enough for encouraging us to take an afternoon tour so that we could experience both day and night in the Everglades. The night part of our tour was my favorite. The stars were breath taking! I would highly recommend a night trip to any and everyone! This is what Florida is really about. We choose this vacation over Disney and would do it again without hesitation. Steve and Stevie, we can not wait to see you both again very soon! — Margaret, Chris and Zac, Port St. Lucie, FL
Had an awesome adventure with Captain Steve. We saw the BIGGEST bear ever. He stood about 7 ft tall. We saw captain Steve's buddies' buggies and the all look different. We followed some gater tail tracks. Our adventure was filled with bear,thunder,lightening, torrential rain and some interesting vegetation! Steve is wealth of knowledge and humor. We rounded out the day with some fried gator nuggets from Oyster House in Everglade City. Fun was had by all! — Beth, PA
EXCELLENT Everglades adventure With Captain Steve in Big Cypress National Preserve.. Wow, did we have fun while on a great back to nature tour. We had a relaxing, informative, and very special swamp adventure. This was our second trip with Captain Steve’s operation. Last year we went for the first time as his very first customers, and we were super excited to return again this year. Read on!
We went for an afternoon swamp buggy tour yesterday with Captain Steve’s Swamp Buggy Adventures. Now mind you I was taking this swamp adventure with my two nieces Kati, Colleen, and with my wife Maureen, also known as “Doc”. Well, Doc is from Queens, NY, a born and bred “city girl”, not exactly what you might call a swamp woman. Kati, 16 is a “Hottie cheerleader” going to school in Naples Florida. Colleen,9 who has a small issue with bugs……..she gets welts just thinking about them, and says she’s a “Tom-boy”, but used to be a princess. How does that work anyway? And me, a small town guy in his mid-50’s from upstate New York, married to the Doc and now we live in Chapel Hill North Carolina. I camped and hunted some when I was younger and I spend time fishing in my kayak whenever possible. We could probably be described as the quintessential tourist group, with a broad spectrum of outdoor likes and dislikes. So I was wondering how we’d like this swamp buggy thing, and we were about to find out.
The plan was to leave at 2:00 PM, with Steve’s best driver Otis, and return after dark. Sounded great to me. Steve even offered to let us use his camping space out there in the woods to cook some “sammie’s” (sandwiches) over the campfire.
Well, after a hurried lunch at home we left to meet Otis at the Concho Billie trailhead off Turner River road. “Otis is a tall drink of water in a cowboy hat” was the only description that I had to go on from Captain Steve. So I’m thinking to myself as we arrive; OK we just drove an hour to get here, so there had better be somebody looking like Otis around ‘cause we’re already way out in the swamp, somewhere down this dirt road, in the middle of Big Cypress National Preserve. Oh yeah, I almost forgot to mention that had just counted 41 alligators just in the last 8 miles along with a dozen or so wading birds and a huge turtle. We had already seen more wildlife than we had expected to see all day.
Sure enough……cowboy hat and all. Otis has sort of that Clint Eastwood feel about him, you know, a little weathered, no wasted words, and a pause before he speaks, but with a certain niceness, like your favorite uncle.
He was full of knowledge about south Florida, the Everglades, and all of the local flora and fauna. We could see that Otis was confident in this element…. the swamp. And that felt really good being that we were heading away from the nearest road and civilization at 4-5 mph, and it was getting swampier by the minute. The buggy, big, tall, rugged and capable is not the picture of automotive excellence. It looks a bit like a cross between a monster truck without the body and a dinosaur. Just big rugged steel frames with the guts all hanging out to see. I loved it. Basic transportation for the swamp. Its functional, and surprisingly comfortable with bench seats for 6.
There we were piled atop the buggy like the Swiss family Robinson about a mile from the nearest road out in the wilderness of south Florida. Its flat. Before we knew it we were driving through 2 feet of water with what appeared to be savannah on both sides. We spotted a Red Shouldered Hawk off to our right. Further on, the terrain is so varied out there that soon we went through a pine forest and then past several Oak heads (slightly higher ground dry enough to support oak trees). It was beautiful to see the changing environment and the vast variety of plant species. By far the predominant tree is the Cypress, tall ones and short ones but they all have a really ancient look when you see thousands of them at once as far as you can see. It looked other-worldly. Otis gave us lots of history surrounding the trees in the area.
New driver! So I’m sitting there enjoying the bright sun and fresh air ride thinking “I wonder what its like to drive a swamp buggy creeping along so high up off the ground, with that lazy bounce and always tilting side to side like the snap roll of my power boat.” That’s when Otis turns around and says how would you like to drive us through this long stretch of deep water. My eyes light up and then I realize that he’s asking my 9 year old niece. Her eyes light up as she’s headed for the driver’s seat. She handled the buggy like a 9 year old pro. I handled my passenger seat also like a pro. Then my older niece Kati took the wheel, making it look easy. I manned the video camera, with daydreams of my own swamp buggy, me dressed in camo and a big dog of some kind at my side. Yeah that’s it, a dog named Linus.
By now I’m noticing all kinds of things around us that we would never have seen anywhere else. Its was sort of like taking a hike and swim through the preserve without leaving the comfort of your seat. The slow creeping speed through the Cypress forest lets you examine things with a level of detail that is unparalleled. You get a real connection with nature much like going hunting. I had the time for more than a passing glance at the natural world. It’s great. And Otis would stop any time we asked and he’s always got a story of bit of history to share. We found the camp after 2 hours of wonderful travel and cooked the “sammies” as planned. We saw some bear tracks, and many more ibis, herons and egrets.
Otis did a 3 point turn with the buggy that involved some lurching back and forth, crashing into the brush and spinning tires in the deep mud, it was great, and we left the campsite at 6:30 PM. The ride back was surreal. With the sun having gone down about an hour earlier the trail back seemed much more perilous. What was a drive through a wildlife park during the day was like a drive through Jurassic Park at night. We plunged into the inky shadows anticipating the surprises that lay ahead in the darkness. The buggy headlights gave us an eerie view ahead down the tree lined trail and some degree of trepidation looking at the water holes that we approached in the night. A big surprise was the temperature drop. Daytime was sunny and 80, now it dark and 60, so we put on our jackets. One of the best parts of the whole trip was a stop out on the prairie to watch the stars. This is the best planetarium around. From horizon to horizon its stars, so many it was hard to find the usual constellations that we know. The Milky Way was brilliant. Colleen counted the shooting stars. We hooted with an owl in the distance and watched another in an oak tree overhead. We stopped to watched 2 alligators in the water, watched 2 Green Legged Night Herons fishing, saw some bats and marveled at the sounds of the night. After an hour and a half trip back to the trailhead we found that old dirt road and my Honda Element stacked up with kayaks looking like just an ordinary car relegated to the pavement.
For a really great outdoor experience and to see the real south Florida find Captain Steve, and ask for that tall drink of water in a cowboy hat as your driver. You won’t be disappointed, and we’ll be back again next year. — Doug Cary, Chapel Hill, North carolina
I would highly recommend Capt. Steve's to anyone interested in going to big cypress. Our driver Willy took very good care of us. We had a person with a handicap with us in our group and they were awesome about helping him and he really enjoyed this trip. The view was beautiful, and the ride was so much fun. Everyone needs to give this a try! — Jenna , Michigan
Amazing! That's what it was like to go out at night on Steve's Buggy. Being a photographer and seeing what I did see was great, but most of all feeling right at home with Steve and his family. The star your saying to yourself what stars well, you will see lot of stars on this trip, I did even feel like I was in Florida.....for the most part I don't think I have ever look up at night a seeing so many star like I did last night. Steve Thank you for giving me a great trip can't wait to do it again....... — Marilyn , Hollywood, Florida
those crabs were soooommmee good caapn'steeve. i loved the buggy. i thought you looked cute ;) i had lots of fun! — kyle smith, colorodo
The bikers from Alabama had a GREAT TIME. Sorry we are late on posting the pic. We will definitely see you again in the rainy season!! — Tammy Bailey, Sylacauga, Alabama
There are few guides as knowledgeable about any wilderness and in particular, about the Everglades area as Capt. Steve. He lives there and travels into this area daily. Ask him about the plants, flowers, birds, animals and he has the answer. He love and enthusiasm of the area enhances any discourse he gives. It is well worth taking the time and trouble to obtain an introduction to this vast unique area. Additionally he was very adjustable and easily accommodated our needs. — Jay Ku, Chattanooga, TN
Steve, Thank you for a informative ride.
I live in Florida. I would have never enjoyed the chance to see the great views of the natural Florida. All because of you, I was able to enjoy the trip. I had a friend from Iowa who said he will do it again that was with us. Lots of fun. — Don Meek, Cape Coral
My wife and I managed to get out with Captain Steve on one of his last rides before they closed down the park. We absolutely had a blast riding around the swamp with him! We got to see a lot of white tail deer, we saw a Florida panther, a few alligators and a few different species of birds. Captain Steve was very knowledgable about the area. He was a very friendly person and easy to get along with, just a \" good ol boy\"! We will definitely be back to see him... Hopefully sooner than later! — Jeff Mezzo, Cortland NY
Members of the Everglades Foundation Staff had the pleasure of taking a night ride with Captain Steve and it was fantastic! A night to remember! Steve is a gracious host and a passionate champion of the Everglades. We are fortunate to have him offering an educational, fun ride with delicious food. What an amazing experience! Thank you Steve! — Susan Ervin, Miami, FL
Dear Steve, My entire family agreed "This was the Best Day Ever" From the moment I left you a voice mail inquiry to our actual tour through the Cypress Preserve we all felt like we've known you for ever. I'm from the New England area and you always hear about southern hospitality.
I guess you are who they were talking about. Your abundance of knowledge and love of the preserve made it as much educating as it was adventurous. My husband was whining about not seeing any alligators in Florida, That was until you brought him to the very place you would want to observe them, Their natural home. Steve we all want to say that we miss you and hope to see you the next time were down to visit my sister, who also would love to see you again, this time you come to her place in Fort Myers,
"The Clam Bake" for some real New England Seafood that her husband has perfected and is matched by no other. Call her first so she can have my parents come in to see you again.
Sincerely Audrey Chagnon — Audrey Chagnon sister of Laurie Thomas, Clam Bake Ft Myers, and family, Fort Myers Florida
Captain Steve is great! He is knowledgeable about the swamp- flora and fauna. He genuinely loves to go out and is enthusiastic about sharing the backcountry with his guests!
It is always a treat to have a native share his perspective on the Preserve, even before it was a Preserve! We got to see some amazing cypress domes, wildlife and different environments. I would highly recommend Steve to anyone visiting the area! — Alyssa, Ochopee
My husband and I took a trip with Captain Steve and we will never forget it. Not only does he know the history
but he was the most considerate host of a tour I have ever encountered. I am a Travel Agent and tell everyone
about Capt. Steve. — Dawn Barraco, Colorado
Thank you so much Captain Steve! We had the most amazing day with you guiding us in Big Cypress. Captain Steve is so passionalte about the area and was very informative. He was happy to stop anywhere we wanted to take pictures or look at anything. We learned so much and had a great time. We would highly recommend Capt. Steve and can't wait to take another tour. — Jennifer Kelly, Ft. Lauderdale, FL
A couple of weeksends ago, we went out on the Buggy with Capt.Steve... and it was fantastic, the weather was beautiful and the scenery was out of this world. We would highly suggest to anyone just thinking about it.. to stop just thinking and go do it.. It will be an unforgettable experience in your life and you will be have something to talk about that not everyone else can.
\"A day in the Everglades!!!\" — Leon & Evelyn, Central Fla
We took this tour during 2012 Thanksgiving holidays. The guide and Steve himself are the friendliest people I have ever met. Not only did we have a great tour, but they also helped me with a couple of gallons of gas since I was running low, and the nearest station was some 10 miles away. They also returned some camera equipment I left on the buggy by mistake.
The tour itself seemed a bit too long, and about last hour or so towards the end, it got really dark and cold. My recommendation is to take the morning tour rather than the 2pm one.
The other challenge was lack of wildlife - all the alligators had moved into the river due to dryness, and we saw only one deer, and a few birds. If seeing alligators is your thing, then please ask before taking this tour. — PM, TX
I have been a tour guide in the Everglades for 14 years now. Three years ago,Steve took us by swampbuggy. Camping on a hardwood hammock. For 3 days we enjoyed the peaceful beautiful Everglades.(except for the bear that wondered through at 1am.) This past year, I have used this tour to entertain friends from out of town. And for me to see parts of the glades previously off limits. On the tours we have seen otters, deer, gators, snakes, birds, and the most beautiful trees and plants. For me its like being able to go
walking on the moon. I highly recommend this tour for anyone that's wants the best. Steve has taught and shone me things about the glades I have never read in a book. — Kenny Hill, Fort Myers FL
What a beautiful area!!!! My two sons and I went out with Capt. Steve the day before Thanksgiving and had a wonderful time!!!!
If you love nature,birds,and all types of wildlife,you have got to go on this tour!!!!!
We went on the late afternoon tour and I highly recommend it! Capt. Steve was knowledgeable,FUN,and most of all an authentic, 6th generation,good natured Floridian. Capt. Steve went out of his way to make our adventure with him one we will always cherish!!! If you want to have a fun, exciting,learning,and laughing experience, sign up for one of Capt. Steve's Swamp Buggy Tours! You'll be glad you did!!!!! WE WERE!!!
sincerely, R.Dix — Richard Dix, East Wenatchee, Wa.98802
The four of us had an amazing time in Big Cypress. We started early so we could see the wildlife (bug spray is a must!!). We saw deer, turtles and more! Capt. Steve had many stories to tell and great knowledge of the area. We all learned a lot about the history of the park! We went in late May so go early in the morning and avoid the heat of the day! Thanks for a great time!!!! — Greg Howard, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
My family and I had a great time on our trip in to the Everglades. Captain Steve was very knowledgeable and taught us a lot about the history and how the ecosystem works in the Everglades. My wife and daughter got off the swamp buggy and waded in the water. We saw quite a few birds, a few alligators and some deer. — Timothy Lindstrom and family, Hebron, Indiana
My wife and I took the tour yesterday. We had a great time! We saw several deer, bear and panther tracks AND a 10 foot alligator! He came almost to the buggy. He hissed at us several times. We got to watch him walk back to his waterhole.
Captain Steve was informative as well as entertaining. He made us feel right at home!
Again, it was great fun. Thanks for sharing the swamp with us. — Stan Grief, Kevil, KY
My friend and I went on a tour with Captain Steve. We really appreciated all of his hard woork on the tour but really didn't see any animals, one small alligator. We were told it might because the storm Issac had just come through. We enjoyed the ride but were really dissapointed. Steve seems to know his stuff as far as the history and any questions you have he is willing to discuss. — Diana Tx
Oh Boy! Yesterday we had an adventure. Went away back in time, before people in Florida. Deep into the Big Cypress on a giant wheeled monster, unimaginable! Yet we rolled along, up and down, 10 feet high with truly a view to die for. What we experinced is hard to convey in words, or even pictures. Capt. Steve showed us what heretofore has only been available to a select few: old time loggers, extreme hikers and adventurous hunters. Prairies like the mid-west; beautiful sub-tropical flora, and fauna had me wearing down the camera battery. This is the real mccoy, a Florida before development.The Capt is a gentleman, most knowledgeable, thoughful. Hold on to your hat, go if you have the guts. — Chuck Miller, Big Cypress, the Concho Billie Trail!
Been trying to contact you to tell you how much we enjoyed the 11-19-10 Everglades City Ladies Coffee tour yesterday. We have been telling everyone we meet how personable and fun you were, including your buddy, Martha at the Museum of the Everglades. — Jane Rackley, Everglades City