After checking out Jumping Crocodiles in Kakadu, NT Australia, we simply couldn’t resist seeing if Louisianna could match that. So off we went on an Ultimate Swamp Adventure.
Ultimate Swamp Adventure
With a local hotel pick up, our two-hour tour began in the historic fishing village of Bayou Segnette, only 15 mins drive from downtown CBD and the French Quarters of New Orleans.
Cute cottages, reminiscent of what the world saw totally destroyed during Hurricane Katrina, lined our drive as we approached the harbour.
This side of New Orleans was unaffected from the disaster that hit the opposite side when the levy banks broke.
The swamp was in the Bayou Segnette State Park and was characterised by age old Cyprus trees surviving decades of being used to build and re-build New Orleans over the years.
Draped by Spanish moss eerily adorning many of the trees, we leisurely cruised past a few still mined gas pumping stations set in the water, as well as one now defunct picturesque but haunting historic old oil station.
The birdlife was few and far between on this cold and stormy day, but we did pass a number of black vultures parked on lights and electricity pylons as we left the harbour.
The odd cormorant was out fishing whilst a large grey heron stalked its prey along the water’s edge. A water snake cruised along as we looked out for a bald eagle or two, but none were out today.
But, we were all really there for the swamp alligators, and gator spot we did. With the aid of Scott, our very experienced captain and tour guide, we slowly cruised the swamp waters of known hangouts of his regulars.
Looking for alligators
Whilst feeding is not really encouraged, it has been done for years and so the gators were well accustomed to tour boats. Boat captains will lure a gator towards the hull of the boat to give you the best experience to take back to family and friends.
What surprised us was the bait…white marshmallows. Of course, what else would a self respecting gator go for?
The captain had a ‘watery’ explanation that they resemble turtle eggs, mmm, chewy, sticky turtle eggs, right!
Gators are supposed to swallow much of their food whole, but these actually seemed to enjoy chewing this delicacy and making it last a few mouthfuls!
The largest we tempted was a big male, Chubbs, whose territory was a 2 mile radius with 20 or more females. He was also seen to challenge and kill any smaller males entering his patch.
Then there was Miss Vicky. The smaller females stop growing around 8 feet whilst the boys reach 19-20 feet. She appeared almost on cue, slowing swimming along the surface as she spotted the boat.
She was so relaxed that she came right up to the boat and Scott was able to touch her and lift her head out of the water, not once but twice. She didn’t seem perturbed at all. Neither was he, but I was standing by the first aid kit just in case he mis-timed this stunt!
Then the un-expected highlight of the tour. A smaller gator, Bob, appeared right at the end of our trip. He was a known ‘jumper’. Enticed by a measly marshmallow on the end of a one metre fishing rod he happily lifted himself out of the water a number of times.
Quite unlike the Australian salties who require a good chunk of prime beef or chicken on a long rod to get them to show their strength and agility.
This little guy performed faultlessly and soon had his fill of at least 4 or 5 marshmallows, as we did with our cameras. And so we returned to the sleepy little village’s harbour to be greeted by the next tour’s hopefuls.
We left them to have their own adventure, secretly wishing it wouldn’t be half the fun as ours had been…
Discover New Orleans
For more information see Ultimate Swamp Adventures or phont (800) 728-7187. The tour operates seven days a week (9:30AM, 12:00 noon, 2:00PM).
Irene Isaacson travelled at her own expense.