I had a great time when I journeyed to New Orleans for my fourth Race for the Cure. The NOLA Komen is the one I will return to every year that I’m alive. I wanted to take a swamp tour while visiting and the timing worked out that I took it in Slidell, Louisiana which was on my way back home. If you’ve never taken a swamp tour, get ready for an instructive and interactive adventure.
I chose Dr. Wagner’s Honey Island Swamp Tour and October was a perfect time to go. I would NEVER go in the summer because of the heat, humidity and mosquitos, gnats, ticks and every other creepy crawly bug but the day was cool enough to require a coat and hat. Honey Island Swamp is a few miles off of I10 and easy to reach. There is ample parking and a tour is offered each morning and afternoon. I drove to Honey Island but they offer round trip transportation from New Orleans. I took the afternoon tour and was advised to BE ON TIME and bring cash. The tours last about two hours and two sets of tour boats are staggered into the swamp and reservations are required.
You will pay your (CASH!!!) fare in the general store and can pick up some bog related souvenirs. Make sure you look at the live gators but maybe don’t get too close.
I sat in the back of the boat so I could better hear the tour guide and see more of the swamp. This gave me a close up view of the guide’s secrets that I will not give away in this post. I’ll only say this: know the definition of food. Our first stop was to an area of trees huddled together with bark indicators of the tide. We’d arrived when the tas low and could see evidence of high tide and flooding on the bark.
Our next stop was to meet an alligator! That thing swam up to the boat and I swear I could hear a clock ticking! Our guide fed the alligator which encouraged it to keep coming to us and the boat. I’ve never been that close to an alligator before other than grilled on my plate. The gators at Honey Swamp were preparing to hibernate (did you know gators did that?) and needed to eat enough food to do so. Most of the gators we saw were three to five feet long but we saw one sunning itself that was easily 10 feet!
There were also raccoons (ALMOST GOT IN THE DAMNED BOAT!!) and wild boar rooting for food. The boar are actually destroying the ecosystem by uprooting trees, creating new waterways and causing erosion.
For me the best part of the trip was cruising down the canals sitting in the sun in an open boat on a cool October day with utterly blue skies. The wind blew, that dirty brown water splashed on me and I had a grand adventure! I never thought I’d go on a swamp tour because it was outdoors in Louisiana but I discovered it’s not so bad late in the year. The trip ended with a huge bird (Heron? Pterodactyl?) leaping from a tree into the sky. I was so astounded I could not grab a shot. There are many things in the swamp that have yet to be discovered and I would take a return trip via Dr. Wagner’s to discover them. You should too.
Have you taken a swamp tour? How was it?