New Orleans in Louisiana is a city surrounded by swamp land. There are an abundance of endless waterways, spectacular scenery and wonderful wildlife, all only a short drive from New Orleans, so if you ever plan on visiting the Crescent City, be sure to make time for a swamp safari!
Ty and I chose Cajun Encounters (the same company we used to do our city bus tour of New Orleans) to embark on our swamp adventure while in Louisiana. The day was so much fun and we loved being out in the fresh air of the country, cruising around on the waterways and coming face to face with the wildlife.
The day began, as every swamp safari should, with me wrestling an alligator – the rite of passage to be allowed on the tour. I went first and I felt kind of bad for all the people who had to go after me, because I made it look really easy…
Just kidding! But it was fun to take photos with this friendly (fiberglass) gator and pay homage to the crazy croc wrestling Australian stereotype!
Our welcoming party to the swamp lands of Louisiana
We were separated into three groups and led through the trees and shallow swamp land along a beautiful boardwalk to the waterway where the boats were waiting.
We boarded our cozy boat with our awesome guide and set off along the beautiful waterways, taking in the fresh air, sunshine and stunning scenery, in search for our first wildlife encounter.
Everyone seemed a bit nervous about boarding the boat so we jumped in first! We aren’t the pushy types when playing tourists so we usually don’t get to get on anything first…
…which meant we got the best seats in the house…erm…boat
The gorgeous waterway
Despite the fact that many alligators inhabit the swamp water, there was no guarantee that we would actually see one due to them being in hibernation for winter. However, we were really lucky and our guide spotted our first gator within 10 minutes of the tour beginning! I was ridiculously excited, which sounds kind of strange now as I write it – I guess it was a mixture of actually seeing a gator when it was more likely that we wouldn’t, and the fact that he was in the swamp and we were on the boat (i.e. safe).
And then he flicked his tail…
and was gone…
I’ve obviously watched too many movies because a tiny part of me feared this gator was in fact evil and headed our way to capsize the boat. But just when you needed it, the tour guide put us all at ease – when asked what alligators eat by a nervous looking guy, he promptly told us “tourists”. I’ll be honest – it was kind of amusing to watch a few of the others shift uncomfortably in their seats while they figured out he was only kidding! The guide had a good chuckle to himself – we tourists make it too easy!
We kept moving through the waters until we spotted this little guy getting some sun!
Our guide was very knowledgeable about the wildlife, shrubs and trees growing in this part of Louisiana and he shared what he knew with us while we cruised around. According to history, the swamp lands were always seen as dark and foreboding, mystical and mysterious territorities, and have had countless reports of pirates burying looted treasure in the marshes and even hundreds of reported sightings of Bigfoot! I think the dark, gloominess of the narrow waterways, the muddied-coloured water and the Spanish moss draped over the Cypress trees really adds to both the swamp’s mystery and beauty.
At this point our guide pointed to the approaching boat and as all heads swivelled around to look, he said “here we have Homo sapiens”. He was quite the character!
Lastly, towards the end of the tour, we spotted a group of raccoons, who were as good at swimming in the swamp as they were climbing trees!
These little guys were so friendly and so clearly addicted to marshmallows (which the guide fed them, for better or for worse), that they came really close to our boat. Just as a few people on the side of the boat closest to the animals were reaching out to touch them, the guide proudly told us that “no one has gotten rabies from a bite from one of these raccoons in years”. All hands promptly retracted.
On the way back to the dock, we passed by some houses residing right by the swamp, a miniature Forest Gump lookalike fishing boat belonging to one of the commercial fisherman and a grand old bridge that lifts up for boats too large to go underneath it (although you have to wait 4 hours for someone to arrive and operate the bridge!).
Building your house on massive stilts is an absolute must when living in the swamp land
A mini Forest Gump boat
The rusty old bridge
Ty and I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of our two hour swamp safari! It was such an amazing adventure and the best way to see and learn about the swamps of Louisiana and the plant and animal life that inhabit them. And for only $25 each, it was a real bargain and such a treat!
Have you ever been on a swamp tour?
With love, Carly xo