The Dora Canal links the two lakes of Dora and Eustis, and as far as I could glean from my limited research on this, it is partly man-altered and partly natural. Previously aptly named ‘Elfin River’, the Dora Canal, as we know it today, came into being officially in the late 1800’s, when the captain of a steamboat assembled a team of laborers, to help make the waterway more passable (Information from Lake County gov.).
This is interesting, but it did not prepare me for the fairy-tale world we were about to enter, on the boat down the Dora Canal. We were two girls taking the boat tour departing from the historic Lakeside Inn in Mount Dora (www.doracanal.com). The Lakeside Inn itself is worth visiting, let alone the whole city of Mount Dora, with its quaint Victorian charm.
First of all, the boat takes you across Lake Dora, where you can see the many unusual houses and docks right on the lake. Interestingly, this was once part of what was called ‘Mosquito County’, not for no good reason. You can see that many people have screened in their little dock/patio areas on the lake. Being a magnet for the little ‘swamp angels’ myself, I can only imagine how bad of a plague the mosquitos must be in the summer time.
Then you enter the magical world of the Dora Canal, and it is truly a magical and silent world. Interestingly, the further you get inside of the canal and closer to the more natural part, the cooler it gets too. It seems the big, majestic Cypress trees and indigenous flora, not only filter out the sunlight, but also make the humidity more bearable, almost creating a shady and cooler micro-climate. It felt very pleasant on quite a hot and humid day!
As you get further and further into the canal, you begin to see the spectacular wildlife. Alligators, aquatic birds, snakes and otters are commonly spotted. On our trip, we saw plenty of birds, mostly herons of all sizes and colors, Anhingas drying off their plumage, such as this nice specimen here:
We also saw alligators (my favorites!!) and turtles.
I can’t not mention the staff of the company running the boats. It was totally obvious that they had as much fun doing this as we had. They knew all the species of birds and animals we came across and were very adept at spotting them ahead of anybody else. They were entertaining and funny and really made this trip very special.
We had a lot of fun, but being fun type of girls said next time we would fill our cooler bottles with ice cold beer and make it a ‘happy hour’ boat trip. However, judging by this selfie taken at the end of the trip, we look pretty happy, right?! 😉
For Dora Canal boat-tours, visit: www.doracanaltour.com