Natural Excursions

Kayak & Koffee tours provide scenic adventures on local waterways.

The stillness of an early morning provides some of the best opportunities to see and hear our area’s natural world in all its splendor. And when you do that from a kayak, you add visual elements below the water that are simply spectacular.

One of the easiest ways to do this—and get a great cup of java too—is through the Kayak & Koffee program offered by Marion County Parks & Recreation (MCPR).

The kayak tours, for ages 15 and older of all skill levels, are off ered the second Saturday of each month from late summer through the spring. The program provides the equipment, or you can bring your own.

“We do provide all the gear one might need. The vessel, life vests, etc.,” offers Sara Johnson, a community engagement coordinator with MCPR, “and we off er discounted pricing for those who provide their own kayak gear.”

The kayak tour in January took paddlers from KP Hole Park to Blue Run Park on the Rainbow River. February’s outing was at King’s Landing in nearby Orange County. In March, the tour will follow the gorgeous Silver River from Silver Springs to Ray Wayside Park, where the Silver River meets the Ocklawaha River.

“This time of year, manatees are abundant in our spring-fed rivers, especially the Silver and Ocklawaha rivers,” Johnson notes. “Our corner of the state is home to a number of native Florida species that call rivers and their banks home, including fi sh, otters, birds and alligators.”

The tours on the Silver and Rainbow rivers reveal a wide variety of birds in the air and trees, fish flashing through the water as sunlight glints off their scales, turtles gently paddling through grass beds and, in the case of the Silver River, occasional glimpses at the feral rhesus monkeys that roam the banks.

This a great way to learn more about our region’s natural beauty. The tours typically run between two to four hours—and there’s coffee at the end “as a little treat for all that paddling,” shares Johnson.

The cost for each Kayak & Koffee outing is $50 per participant with all gear provided, or $25 each for those who bring their own equipment.

For more information or to register, go to parks.marionfl.org or call (352) 671-8560.

Posted in Insider, Marion Features

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