Swamp Tours, New Orleans
About 90 minutes west of New Orleans along the Cajun Coast is the community of Houma. We were in transit between New Orleans and Morgan City, so check not only my images and tips here, but check out my pages for Morgan City. Munson Tours are a one boat operation at the reasonable price of $20 per adult, and the tour guides are authenticly Cajun raised in the bayou. The disadvantage of taking a tour in the Cajun gulf coast is that the forests are second growth and the tree trunks are relatively small in diameter. However, the tour operations in this area do provide gator and wildlife appreciation which deserves support among those ecologically minded. So, it was that we joined a family on a boat tour (not the ecology compromising fan boat) of a bayou. In winter time, the trees are more often bare and the gators are hiberating, but we saw plenty of wildlife and the unique beauty of the swamp. So, for example, when I talk about the area being second growth, I have to remember that in the delta region of California, there is not even second growth standing. It's all farmland, pastureland, freeways, and houses. It's a good day get away from the urban chaos of New Orleans.
There are many tours in New Orleans but a swamp tour is probably the most interesting.
There are many companies to choose from but we preferred Cajun Pride that was suggested by other travelers. The minivan of the company came to our hotel and we traveled there in about 30’,
We boarded at a weird boat (pic 2) and the tour lasted for 2 hours. It was really fun to be there, the driver/guide was very informative along the way and he answered every question we had about the swamps and the wildlife there. The route was scenic (pic 3) in many parts and we was many different birds and small animals but the highlight was the alligators of course.
I was surprised of how many of them we saw along the way (in some tours you just see 2-3 while we saw more than 20!) and what’s more we had the chance to feed them, take pictures of them and even to hold one on our hands!! It was a baby one of course! :) It seems the alligators are used of the company’s boats, they were coming directly to us all the time.
We stopped several times at specific spots where the guide got outside and feed with chickens many of the alligators and left one to walk into the boat!! Of course, by feeding them non stop the alligators weren’t really interesting about us!
You can book online or through your hotels or a tourist kiosk everywhere in French Quarter. You can drive there if you have a car or they pick you up from your hotel.
The tour costs $44(with transportation) or $22 without. Combo tour including a plantation costs $85(with transportation)
There are several swamp tours...I have done two and found that Louisiana Swamp Tours was my fave. Super good guides, saw TONS of Gators and got to hold a little guy. Worth every penny. Had to get a hat, too!
Gotta do the Airboat!
This was so much fun. There are several types of swamp tours available. There is the large boat tour. Its the least expensive. You are on a large boat with about seventy other tourists taking a slow ride through the swamps. There is also a twelve person air boat. This is a fast boat ride that goes a little deeper into the swamps. The price is a little more expensive than the river boat. However we took the six person airboat. It cost us $75.00 each. But it was worth the extra cost. The ride is VERY fast. We had to turn our hats around backwards to keep from losing them. The ride takes you deep into the swamp areas and back into small little inlets and coves. The scenery is beautiful.
Here in the picture the driver took our boat out of the water and up onto a mud bank. Then he stopped the boat and got out and took pictures for us. It was wild. Then he got back into the boat, started up the engine and drove us back into the water.
There at least a half dozen companies offering these ‘Swamp Tours’. This one takes you to some land about 20 minutes outside New Orleans, about 550 acres of land that they own. The gators are used to them coming thru, and are fed by them every time—so you are pretty much assured of seeing them. The biggest one is about 10 feet long. The guide fed them raw chicken, and allowed any passenger the opportunity to feed them too, by using a 4-foot pole. He picked one of the 3 foot gators and kissed the snout of him. You also saw a blue heron, and a white one.
The guide was very informative and seemed to love his job. He also had a baby gator on board, and a snapping turtle. Snapping turtles and gators have the 2 strongest bites in the world, 1200pounds per square inch, and 800 psi, compared to great white sharks at 600 psi, crocodiles are up there too somewhere. We were out there maybe 90 minutes, and that was long enough.
Like other ones, they will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel. I think it’s about $45 for it, and it takes a good 4 hours all included.
It was a little chilly out on the swamp in mid Feb, especially when the boat went fast! It was so cold I was not expecting to see anything. We did end up seeing I think 8 gators, a couple of them were quite large, and a lot of birds, etc. I loved seeing the houses all along the swamp. This was a wonderful experience in Slidell, located right outside of New Orleans.
We made reservations ahead and I would think it is probably a good idea to do so. As it was a cool February day and our boat was nearly full. It cost around $25 per person. The money was well spent. A+++
We thought it would be interesting to see some alligators and visit the swamps and Bayous. We got alot of mixed reaction in regards to this so we decided to check it out for ourselves. We crossed over the Mississippi about 20 minutes from New Orleans and found Westwego swamp tours.
It was alittle chilly and they thought that maybe we might not see any critters but we saw quite a few Alligators, Nutria, raccoons, and turtles. Our guide Captain Tom was great, very knowledgable, and had a great eye for spotting an anial from far away.
The whole tour was very interesting. We first sat around in a small animal sanctuary. We learned about what animals we might see and how important they are to the environment. We also learned bout how some animals we introduced to the area and are destroying the plant life. It is not just fun but also educational and by checking out this tours was also very appreciated by the locals. They talked about how after Katrina the tourism hasnt been were it once was in this area.
Captain Tom took us around his Bayou and he had drinks and snacks for us on the boat too.
There are a lot of swamp tours in the Louisiana bayou/delta area. It is a popular side excursion, a chance to see the older parts of the area, as well as a taste of the ecosystem. It is a wondrous place. You see old fishing and hunting shacks, plus the abundant, verdant display which is the bayou. It is a sheer mass of vegetation, filled with wildlife and interesting secrets. Get luck you might spy feral pigs, deer, snakes, perhaps even an alligator.
Honey Island is one such tour group that operates about 30 minutes outside of the city proper. Easy to get to, and they also offer a shuttle service for those without a car in the city. The tour guides are informative about the countryside and all its inhabitants. It was a great afternoon out, reasonably priced ($25 for adult), and highly recommended.
You can get tickets all over the city for different Swamp Cruise's. You can probably also get them from your hotel. Its really worth the time and money. Its a good day away from the hustle of the city of New Orleans. And its lots of fun. Pictured here is one of the Air Boats at the Rajin Cajun Swamp Cruise.
The forecast (accurate) said that it was going to be really cold on the next day, and this day was already chilly. I wanted to do the swamp part of the tour first when I thought it would be warmer, but that wasn't the way it was set up.
After we finished the plantation part of the tour and ate lunch, the tour bus driver drove us a long way to Jean Lafitte which is on the edge of the Jean Lafitte reserve.
We had a choice of a pontoon boat or an airboat. It was already a bit cool, and I knew that it would be colder in the airboat. Plus, I thought we could do the airboat in the Everglades (which was wrong) so we went out in a pontoon boat.
While it was cold, it wasn't so cold that there was no wildlife. We saw nutria (photo 4- a nasty invasive species) and several alligators, and birds (photo 5). Keep in mind that reptiles (alligators and turtles - photo 3) will hibernate if it is cold. The larger alligators were already 'winterized' and invisible to us. The tours will go regardless of how much wildlife there is to see.
The guide (photo 2) also showed us how catfish are caught (It is unattended bait on a line with an old milk bottle as a float), and he had a baby alligator in a bucket on the boat to show us, probably in case of none being available in the wild.
We got back to the hotel about 5
The swamp tour was surprisingly a lot of fun. You drive out of the city for about 45 minutes to board a boat for your tour. The tour took a few hours, and we thought that we wouldn’t really see much…but we were surprised to see as much as we did. The captain spotted plenty of gators - small ones and giant ones -throughout the duration of the tour. He would entice the gators to come closer to the boat by throwing marshmallows into the water – forget raw steak or chicken, these gators have a sweet tooth. Aside from that, the weeping willows along the water were beautiful to look at. It was great for bird watching too. It was even funnier to see real hillbillies living off the swamp.
I didn’t think the swamp tour was going to be much, but it proved to be a great time. I would highly recommend this activity. The boat ride provides some quiet moments to take in the interesting scenery.
I had some time on my hands on Sunday, so I arranged a swamp boat ride from my hotel lobby (US $38). A tour bus drove us a short distance out of town (the view of the city as we crossed over one of the high bridges was very nice) to one of the many mangrove and cypress tree swamps in the Mississippi delta area. This one was called the Barataria Swamps. Once there, we boarded a flat-bottomed boat that had retractable side windows (to keep out the cool morning air) and set off on our journey. It was quite enjoyable motoring slowly along the meandering channels looking at the different types of birds and other small creatures! It was a bit of a flash-back to my days in Papua New Guinea and also the Venezuela Marargita Island tour earlier in the year.
Do not take Mr. Denny's swamp tour. It was the most boring tour i've ever taken. It started off with Mr. Denny passing around pictures of animals from a book and giving us state trivia such as state drink and state song?! who cares about that!! i thought this was a swamp tour! you're then asked to paddle with the tour guide for half the trip; our tour guide said 2 words the entire time and we saw a couple of birds and that was it. if i knew that i was going to paddle myself and not be given any information, i would have rented my own boat and bought a book!! not worth the $20 at all--try another tour company.
We lucked into touring with Captain Charlie with Honey Island and had a blast. Boat was not crowded, Charlie was great, super nice and informative without being teachy. It was enjoyable enough to keep my 16 and 18 year old sons entertained for 2 hours (miracles never cease). Will definately go back ASAP. Would love to do the tour in the late fall.
We came across a few alligators sunning themselves to ward off the cool morning air - this one was perched on top of the fallen cypress tree trunk in the centre of the photo. The operator of the boat also had a small live 'gator stuffed in his jacket - he eventually pulled out and passed it around to the paying passengers so they could feel the texture of its skin.