Native Peoples of Florida’s Mangrove Coast

When:  October 12 – 18, 2019
Where:  Southern Florida
Cost:  $1,995 per person ($375 single supplement)

For over a thousand years the Calusa, Tocobaga, and Seminole dominated southern Florida.  They developed complex civilizations, created breathtaking artwork, and constructed monumental earthworks.  Time and again, they defeated those who attempted to subjugate them.

Our exciting journey will take us from the ancient mound center at Crystal River to the man-made island of Mound Key, the Calusa’s capital.  Along the way, we’ll visit the key sites of Florida’s original inhabitants, explore the unique estuarine environment in which these people lived, and encounter a variety of wildlife such as manatees, dolphins, and alligators.

Joining us for the entire tour will be Dr. Jeffrey M. Mitchem, an expert in early Spanish and Native American contact in the Southeastern United States. He is an archaeologist with the Arkansas Archaeological Survey as well as a board member of the Florida Public Archaeology Network, the Alliance for Weedon Island Archaeological Research and Education, and The Archaeological Conservancy.

Saturday, October 12
Join us in Tampa for a welcome reception.  We’ll spend three nights in Tampa.

Sunday, October 13
We’ll visit Homosassa Springs Wildlife Park, where we’ll observe manatees, alligators, and other species, and we’ll learn about the riverine environment where the Tocobaga Indians lived. At the Crystal River site, we’ll explore the ceremonial center and mounds of the mysterious Crystal River culture.

Monday, October 14
We’ll travel across Old Tampa Bay and tour the Safety Harbor Mound, type-site of the Safety Harbor Culture that arose around A.D. 900. From there we’ll visit the Weedon Island Site, an important Woodland period type-site. We’ll also explore the Anderson Narvaez site, a unique shell mound complex located in the heart of St. Petersburg.

Tuesday, October 15
As an introduction to the Calusa environment, we’ll visit the De Soto National Memorial and learn more about Florida’s Spanish invasions, and we’ll take a walk through a mangrove wilderness. We’ll visit the South Florida Museum, which contains fascinating collections of pre-Columbian artifacts and pottery discovered in the region. From there, we’ll travel to Fort Myers Beach where we will spend the next two nights at the Diamond Head Beach Resort.

Wednesday, October 16
We’ll begin the day with a visit to Mound House Museum, the oldest structure on Estero Island. The centerpiece of this museum is a large cutaway of a shellmound, outfitted with a video narration and LED lights. Surrounding the shellmound is a breathtaking mural of this Calusa village as it may have looked over 2,000 years ago. After lunch, we’ll tour the mounds and canals of the massive Calusa site at Pineland, now protected by the Conservancy and the University of Florida. First occupied around A.D. 50, Pineland served as one of the principal Calusa towns for 1,500 years.  We’ll take a boat to Useppa Island, where we’ll visit the Useppa Island Museum and learn more about the recent archaeological investigations there.

Thursday, October 17
We’ll board boats for the Calusa capital of Mound Key and explore the water courts and the Grand Canal from where massive Calusa war canoes were dispatched by the Calusa kings. We’ll also see the enormous shell mounds that once supported homes of those same rulers. We’ll return to Tampa for the evening.

Friday, October 18
Tour participants depart for home or can extend their stay to enjoy the white sandy beaches of southwest Florida. –

Tour Details:

Cost includes first-class hotel accommodations based on double occupancy (single supplement is $375), lunches, happy hours, expert Conservancy and special guides, admittance fees, tips, tours, background reading, and surface travel via air-conditioned bus with restroom. Not included are meals other than lunches and travel to and from Tampa. A moderate amount of walking is required.

To join us on this tour, or for further information, contact us at or by phone at (505) 266-1540.

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