A Tuesday on a Swamp Tour outside of New Orleans. What could possible go wrong? I was hoping to see some alligators in the wild. It was all fun and games in the Bayou until the Wild Boar with tusks tried to climb in the swamp boat.
Today I was very excited to get outside New Orleans for a quick drive across the Pontchartrain Lake to Honey Island Swamp, one of the least altered river swamps in the country. This 250-square-mile swamp is very close to its original condition of pristine wilderness with 70,000 acres permanently protected as a wildlife area by the Nature Conservancy’s First Louisiana Nature Preserve.
After check-in at the Honey Island Tour headquarters, we were quickly loaded into our boat for a 2 hour swamp tour. There is one long bench in the middle and you can sit on either side; since you are only one deep, there is not a bad seat on the boat. I was first on though so was right up front – both a blessing and a surprise as I found out later on.
Our boat driver was a native to Louisiana and the swamp and quickly started spotting wildlife that I would never have seen including birds, small frogs and other small creatures. Many snakes were curled up in the trees which he navigated the boat around so both sides of the boat could try to pick them out as they tried to camouflage themselves in the trees.
We passed many swamp houses which were in a various conditions. Some were vacation homes, fishing shacks, still destroyed from floods and more rebuilt. Most of these are only accessible by boat as there are few roads.
No roads leading to this place, but this house still had their antenna for TV.
A confederate flag hanging on this one…. a reminder that I was in the South.
This one reminded me of the Disney Pirates of the Caribbean ride… no waterfall afterwards or pirates lurking about.
My favorite part of the swamp tour was when we turned into the smaller waterways to see the shallow backwater areas.
It reminded me of Monet’s water gardens in France.
Next we entered another section where the alligators where known to lurk about. As it was early Spring, they were just coming out of hibernation and the guide said to only expect to see the small ones…. which we did.
There were about 10 wild boars behind him including babies. Our boat floated closer and everyone was snapping pics. As I was in the front of the boat, I started to get REALLY nervous when we got this close.
And the Wild Boar showed me his tusks.
The other tourists behind me were pushing forward to get their picture while I was scampering back onto the top of the bench. The guide pushed the greedy Wild Boar back… I personally would have been terrified in flip flops after seeing those tusks!!! I have a healthy respect for wild nature.
Next time you are in New Orleans, consider a trip out to the Honey Island for a swamp tour. You will be overcome by the primitive beauty the of swamp and a unique look at the nature of this area.
- Official Website: Honey Island Swamp Tour. Book reservations ahead. Either drive out yourself or they have New Orleans pickup services.
- Wildlife: Gators hibernate. Check with the guides for best time of year to visit/book if this is a must see.
- Day of Week: Recommend a mid-week visit as locals are out in the swamp enjoying their backyard, which does decrease your chance of seeing wildlife.