On your next trip to New Orleans, try to pry yourself away from Bourbon Street and discover the haunted and exotic world of Louisiana’s swamplands. It’s the perfect way experience the ‘backyard’ of the Deep South and get up-close and personal with an alligator, or two.
Waterways, swamps and mysterious, moss-draped bayous surround New Orleans. The name bayou originates from a Choctaw Indian word meaning, small stream.
Located just a quick 35-minute drive from the French Quarter of New Orleans, in the hot, watery oasis there are many Louisiana native creatures including wild boar, alligators, turtles, snakes, nutria, hawks, owls, ducks, crawfish and more. Vegetation ranges from lily pads, cypress trees, rushes, reeds, and Spanish moss.
The most exciting, easiest and educational way to experience the secluded areas of the swamplands is to take a guided swamp boat tour. The thrilling high-speed ride on a six-passenger air boat will take you over the marshes and deep into the swamps.
The airboats are operated by captains certified by the US Coast Guard, and many of the operators have spent their entire life hunting, fishing and living in Louisiana’s swamplands; they know the areas and will ensure you have a safe, fun encounters with the local wildlife.
Bring your camera! The airboat captain will make sure you get up close with alligators and other wildlife. There’s also a great chance you will be able to hold a real, live, baby alligator!
Some tours will take you through the remnants of a logging operation from the early 1900’s. Most of the waterways the airboats take are from logging that was done years ago.
Most tours are 30-60 minutes. Tours run year-round, rain or shine. The microclimate in the swamps means there is often short bursts of rain; ponchos are available for purchase from most tour operators at a small fee.
Remember to bring a hat and sunscreen on hot, sunny days. It’s safe to wear flip-flops, t-shirts and casual clothes, but leave your expensive jewelry at home, unless you want to risk making an unintended donation into the swampy waters to be lost forever.
Most tour operators have a minimum height restriction of 48” and individuals with back or neck problems and pregnant women are not allowed to ride on airboats.