The following is a sponsored post courtesy of Punta Gorda Florida however all opinions are mine
I recently went on a trip to Punta Gorda Florida with a few guys from the group Men Who Blog. We had a blast enjoying the beautiful weather, beach, fishing and a whole lot more. One of the things we did though was to take some time to visit Babcock Ranch Eco Tours where we took a swamp buggy tour of the ranch and had lunch.
The ranch was in the Babcock family for more than 90 years and in 2006 was sold to a commercial firm who sold 80% of the 91,000 acre ranch to the State of Florida and Lee County with an agreement that preserved more than 73,000 acres of the most environmentally valuable areas of the ranch.
Babcock Ranch Eco Tours offers a swamp buggy tour lasting about 90 minutes that takes you through four distinct eco systems, has a walking trail of a little over a mile, the Gator Shack Restaurant, exhibits and gift shop.
Currently the ranch is primarily engaged in raising cattle. While the ranch mostly raises Brahman Cattle it also has some of the historic Florida breed, Cracker cattle. Cracker cattle are descendants of Spanish Cattle brought to the new world in the 1500’s, they are generally smaller, heat tolerant, and resistant to parasites and diseases which made them perfect for Florida.
The swamp buggy is an open air converted school bus that takes you around the ranch where you can spot not only the ranch livestock but get up close to alligators, feral hogs, all types birds and other animals and if you are lucky you might catch a glimpse of a Florida panther. The Babcock Ranch is one of the last places in Florida where the panther can be found. We were not lucky on this day however.
The guide is very knowledgeable about the history of the ranch, the various plants native to the area, the animals both livestock and wild along with a dose of humor thrown in.
You will pass through a fresh water marsh and a cypress swamp on the tour and if you keep your eyes peeled you can see deer, hawks, owls, wild turkeys and more on the trip. The guide is really good about spotting the wildlife and stopping along the way so you can take photos.
There is an exhibit area along with a gift shop and of course the Gator Shack Restaurant.
You can take your pick of picnic tables outside or indoor seating and enjoy just plain old good food. With BBQ, sandwiches, seafood, really good burgers and of course fried alligator, the food hits the spot. Here is a tip, eat after the tour otherwise you might just want to take a nap.
Don’t forget to try the desserts also, they make a pretty decent pie.
The bottom line is when visiting Punta Gorda or the surrounding area the big draw is fishing and beautiful beaches. There is a lot more to the area and a visit to the Babcock Ranch Eco Tour is a great way to see the old Florida and learn a little about the people that pioneered the area.
Tour times vary so it is best to call in advance, especially if booking a group.
Babcock Ranch Eco Tours is located at 8000 Florida Hwy 31, Punta Gorda Florida and you can reach them at 800-500-5583