The alligator swamps of Louisiana

IMG_5378.JPGWith time to kill between Nottoway Plantation House and New Orleans an obvious stop off point had to be something swampy for this geographer. Even as we entered Louisiana, from the highways we could see this unique, slightly spooky ecosystem with what seemed like trees growing up out of the water….and boy we experienced a lot of water in this state as the heavens opened for two days solid whilst we were exploring ‘Jazzville’. (We later learned on the news how much this area had suffered with excessive flooding something we had avoided as our road trip was moving us eastward.)

I have always had an unhealthy maybe some would say a morbid fascination with crocodiles and alligators and whilst my greatest fear would be to discover one in water that I’m swimming in, I do like to see them despite the fact they send shivers down my spine. We booked mid day tickets for Cajun Pride Swamp Tours and boarded a boat at La Place not far from New Orleans, Captain Allen was our guide and ‘daddy’ to gators big and small in them there swamps.

He called them by name and they swim up to the boat, he fed them with what appeared to be marshmallows and dropped a shelf down at the side of the boat where he could get up close and personal to those rows of knife like teeth. With his bandaged finger apparently sewn together by himself he warned his guests of the dangers of the bayous.

It wasn’t just ‘gators that Captain Allen pointed out, but a mix of turtle, egret, heron and raccoon. He also told us of the foreign river weeds that are choking the swamps and how swamp life had changed from when he was boy as roads had been built and laws changed to make it harder for some of the original swamp people to survive, Whatever the changes it is clear that he loved the swamp life and wouldn’t want anything different. We enjoyed his stories even if they were a little ‘tall’.

The tour was an hour and a half in the bayou, generally it was cool enough as the boat moves so a breeze trickled through, it was easy to take photos and if you want Captain Allen allows you to hold a baby alligator. I certainly learned a lot on this trip.

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