I won't belabor this topic too much, since I have already written one post on this blog about touring the swamps and bayous of Louisiana during my 2008 trip, and wrote a guest post on the site "We Said Go Travel" about my 'gator-spottin' experiences. But going on another trip to the swamps was a fun part of my most recent visit to New Orleans, and I'd like to share some highlights with you.
Originally, I wasn't going to go. My two travel partners booked rather last minute for a late afternoon voyage out to swamp country in Louisiana, and I had plans to meet another travel blogger for dinner. However, my plans fell through. I was okay with exploring the city on my own while my friends explored the swamp, since I still wanted to trek around Audubon Park, find the home of Edgar Degas, and a few other items on my "see-and-do" list. But, ultimately, my friends' excitement about the excursion, and their pleas for me to join them, won me over. Five minutes before the tour bus was to arrive, we phoned the company and asked if we could tack on one more passenger. Of course, they said yes - it was an extra $70.00 in their pockets!
|Cruising down an "alley way" in the swamp|
Once again, we used the company 'Cajun Encounters'. I really cannot say enough good stuff about this business - they pick you up at your hotel, their drivers are knowledgeable, funny, and friendly (ours had a giant bag of Fireball candies that he shared with the whole bus), and the tour is exciting and satisfying. There are several swamp tour companies, but you pretty much can't go wrong with 'Cajun Encounters'. I highly recommend them. (And no, they did not pay me to say that... but if they want to, they sure can feel free!)
|The Cajun Encounters tour office - in the middle of nowhere|
The weather in New Orleans the week we visited was unusually cold - I certainly did not pack warm enough for the climate we had that week. If you want an idea of how cold it was, it was warmer in CANADA a few of the days we were there. That's sick and wrong. So, unsurprisingly, the 'gators were not in the mood to be out of the water, lounging in the cold wind and shade. We only saw two alligators during our tour: one tiny little female, clinging to the side of a log to try and keep out of the wind, and one male.
|The "Wishing Tree" which was used in Disney's "The Princess and the Frog"|
The male, however, is what made the tour so satisfying. He was HUGE! Bigger than any of the five 'gators I saw during my last trip out to the swamp. My friend wanted to get super close to him so she could nab some mind-blowing photographs, and cajoled our affable captain ever closer. We got some fantastic shots of him, before he started moving his legs oh-so-slowly towards the water, preparing himself to warn us off if we got too close.
|The big, big, BIG alligator!|
Another 'new' part of the swamp tour was how they had incorporated the wild pigs into the mix. The last time I was in New Orleans, the wild pigs weren't such a problem, and no one spoke of them. Now, the wild pigs are over-populated and invasive, taking over whole areas and affecting natural species. It is a real problem, except for the area surrounding the 'Cajun Encounters' swamp tours. They feed their wild pigs, and not just with vegetable scraps from the kitchen. They feed them marshmallows!
|The wild pigs sure loved marshmallows.|
We got up close and personal with a mother pig and her two wee little babies (and her baby from the year prior, whom she kept trying to run off. I guess even pigs want their kids to leave the nest eventually). The captain flung about 20 marshmallows from out of the boat, and the pigs swam right up to us to grab them. The babies were adorable!
|I really enjoyed my time in the swamp once again|
In the end, I was very happy that I had decided to attend the swamp tour. It goes to show that things are never the same way twice. Just because you think you've "been there, done that", it doesn't mean an activity, event, or location isn't worth visiting again. Life always surprises you!
Explore the swamps with "Down the Wrabbit Hole"!