Birds of the Florida Keys, Key West & Dry Tortugas
Birds in Paradise

Tour Dates: April 28 - May 5, 2018
From $2575.00 (USD) Double Occupancy
8 Day Tour
8 Meals Included

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Join us for an unforgettable experience in tropical Florida!  This tour is perfect for the beginning birder, as we combine the best in birding experiences with instructions on bird identification, birding techniques, how to manage your bird lists, what you need for optics and other equipment, and much more.  Starting in Fort Lauderdale, we will visit the internationally famous Everglades National Park for birds, alligators and unparalleled scenery.  Following our visit to the park, we will work our way down the Florida Keys, with stops at a marine preserve with opportunities for glass-bottomed boat viewing and at the Key Deer Preserve to see the remarkable tiny Key Deer.  Our next stop is Key West, for a look around at the historic town and, of course, birds.  Then it’s off to the Dry Tortugas and a visit to Fort Jefferson and a look at nesting colonies of birds that can be seen only here in North America.  We will finish up with a leisurely drive back up the keys with stops at more exceptional scenic birding locales.
 
Double Occupancy:  $2575 per person     Single Occupancy:  $3275

Cost Includes:
  • Motorcoach transportation in Florida
  • Hotels as indicated
  • Entrance to all listed parks and attractions
  • Meals as indicated
  • Bird guide
  • Ferry to Dry Tortugas
Cost does not include airfare to and from Fort Lauderdale
Your Daily Itinerary

Itinerary
A detailed itinerary will be provided prior to the trip. With nature trips, itineraries may be revised due to weather, sightings or other events that may necessitate changes.

Day 1, April 28, 2018 – Fort Lauderdale – Homestead
Arrive at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) by 4:00 pm and meet your Tour/Birding Guide at Baggage Claim. Then we will travel to Homestead where we will check in for a two night stay. Across from the hotel is a grocery store for you to get supplies for picnic lunches. Days 2, 3 and 4 we will enjoy picnic lunches at different birding locations during the day. This evening there will be a get together for a pizza party with an overview of the tour itinerary. Time permitting, we may visit a nearby Cave Swallow site, and there is always the possibility for a flyover by a Swallow-tailed Kite! Hampton Inn & Suites, Homestead (D)

Day 2, April 29, 2018 – Everglades National Park

A full day birding/nature tour of the Everglades National Park is in store for today. It is an international treasure, a World Heritage Site, and an International Biosphere Reserve. The park is home to a vast array of animals that have adapted to a subtropical environment in which temperate climatic conditions, characteristic of latitudes to the north, merge with tropical Caribbean conditions. Everglades National Park protects an unparalleled landscape that provides important habitat for numerous rare and endangered species like the manatee, American crocodile, and the elusive Florida panther. Along the roads and boardwalks we should see most of the common wading birds of south Florida, with good chances for Wood Stork and Roseate Spoonbill. Short-tailed Hawks frequent the area, and both bitterns, both night-herons and Limpkin are possible. Painted Bunting, Mangrove Cuckoo and Seaside Sparrow are rare but regular. Hampton Inn & Suites Miami, Homestead (B)

Day 3, April 30, 2018 – Upper and Middle Florida Keys – John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park

We start birding our way down the Florida Keys. Included today is a visit to John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park. The park contains a wide variety of tropical vegetation, shore birds and marine life, while the mangrove swamps and tropical hammocks offer a unique and interesting experience. In the mangroves we will look for Mangrove Cuckoo, Prairie Warbler and Black-whiskered Vireo. The state park has nesting Gray Kingbird and White-crowned Pigeon. Holiday Inn Express & Suites, Marathon (B)

Day 4, May 1, 2018 – Key West

We continue down the Keys with a stop in Big Pine Key at the National Key Deer Wildlife Refuge. The Refuge includes pine rockland forests, tropical hardwood hammocks, freshwater wetlands, salt marsh wetlands and mangrove forests. These natural communities are critical habitat for hundreds of endemic and migratory species including 17 federally-listed species such as Key deer and lower Keys marsh rabbit. Along the road are numerous beaches and mudflats that we will check for shorebirds (including Wilson’s and Piping Plover, Black-necked Stilt, and several sandpipers), terns and gulls. Magnificent Frigatebids are fairly common here and White-crowned Pigeons occur throughout the area. As we continue our journey we find ourselves in Key West. Ibis Bay Beach Resort, Key West (B)

Day 5, May 2, 2018 – Dry Tortugas National Park

Almost 70 miles west of Key West is the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. We will board the Yankee Freedom III for a ferry ride to The Dry Tortugas National Park. This 100 square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson, picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, plus the vast assortment of bird life that frequent the area. As we approach Garden Key, we will observe nesting colonies of Masked Booby, Sooty Tern and Brown Noddy on nearby islands. Roseate Tern, Brown and Red-footed Boobys and Black Noddy may also be seen from the boat. At Fort Jefferson, a visit to “the bubbler” is a must. This is a freshwater fountain that is a magnet for migrating songbirds, including a wide variety of warblers. Ibis Bay Beach Resort Key West (B, L)

Day 6, May 3, 2018 – Key West

This is your day to enjoy incredible Key West and all that it has to offer. Learn about Key West with a walk down Duval Street, enjoy Mallory Square, take a trolley tour, relax on the beach or just lay around the pool. The entire day is yours to enjoy on your own. An optional “on foot” birding tour will also be available, with stops at some nearby sites for possible Clapper Rail, Antillean Nighthawk, and other Key species that we might have missed along the way. Ibis Bay Beach Resort Key West  (B)

Day 7, May 4, 2018 -- Homestead

We say goodbye to Key West as we start working our way back to Homestead. We will have the opportunity to visit different birding and wildlife areas as we make our way up the Keys to Homestead. A delicious farewell dinner at a local favorite restaurant is planned for this evening. Hampton Inn & Suites, Homestead (B, D)

Day 8, May 5, 2018 -- Return Home
We return to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) for your return flight home. Please do not make your airline reservations to depart Fort Lauderdale before 12:00 noon.  (B)

Program Fee
Price includes motorcoach transfer for group from Fort Lauderdale airport to hotel, motorcoach transportation for birding in Florida, seven nights hotel accommodations, breakfast daily, get acquainted pizza party, lunch at Dry Tortugas, farewell dinner and admissions to all birding sites. Cost does not include Transportation from home city to Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Price per person
Double occupancy is $2,575
Single occupancy $3,275.

Does Not Include Transportation from home city to and from Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Meals and snacks not listed in itinerary above; alcoholic beverages and items of a personal nature.
Optional travel protection insurance is available (see registration form).

Terms & Conditions A deposit of $300 per person is required with registration. Full payment of the balance is due before March 1, 2018 and must be paid by check or money order to Leisure West Tours & Cruises.
As May is still high season in the Florida Keys, accommodations are very limited and all reservations must be completed before March 1, 2018.
Final payment is due before March 1, 2018 and must be paid by check or money order to Leisure West Tours & Cruises.
Please note that all costs are based on a minimum of fifteen (15) paying participants. Should the number of participants fall below this number, all participants will be contacted and given the option of paying an additional supplement or cancellation with full refund.
There is a maximum of twenty participants on this trip.

Cancellation Policy As May is still high season in the Florida Keys, all reservations must be completed before March 1, 2018. Your deposit is refundable for any written cancellation received prior to March 1, 2018, less a $25 per person cancellation fee. Cancellations must be made in writing and sent to Leisure West Tours & Cruises at the address shown below. If the Denver Museum of Nature & Science should cancel the trip due to insufficient bookings, a full refund will be given. Optional travel protection plan is available through Leisure West Tours & Cruises. If you desire the insurance, please request information and an enrollment form with your reservation.
We return to Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport (FLL) for your return home. Please do not make your airline reservations to depart Fort Lauderdale airport before 12:00 noon. (B)

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