4 Ways to See Louisiana Swampland

We were no less giddy the third time we took the pontoon out onto the Atchafalaya River.

It was after dark. The best view of the milky way was up the river, away from the light of the wedding reception. Unable to see any sand banks or submerged logs, we tugged along a minimum speed. So slow, in fact, the bride’s 5-year-old nephew took a turn steering the vessel.

Attending our good friend’s wedding was an opportunity for Los Adventures to take a swamp-centric tour of south central Louisiana. In the first post of our series on Louisiana, we take the back way to New Orleans to get a taste of the true bayou.

1. Kayak the Atchafalaya River

The wedding reception took place at a lodge on the Atchafalaya River in Breaux Bridge. The area is bordered on both sides by swampland, the Henderson Swamp and the Atchafalaya National Wildlife Refuge. After seeing the expanse of half submerged cypress trees from the highway, we were desperate to get out on the water. In addition to the pontoon, we took out their 2-person kayak. We missed the speeches and the cutting of the cake, but I think it was worth it to see the sunset on the river.

We missed the speeches and the cutting of the cake, but I think it was worth it to see the sunset on the river.

2. Stroll through Avery Island

Next, we headed south down the US 90 freeway towards Avery Island. 140 miles west of New Orleans, Avery Island is both a nature sanctuary and home to the Tabasco sauce headquarters. The island is actually a huge rock salt dome surrounded on all sides by bayou and swampland. Tabasco founder, Edmund McIlhenny, married into the family and used this salt in the original versions of his famous sauce. On the island, you can visit the factory and the nature preserve, the Jungle Gardens, created by the founder’s son. The grounds are lush with mossy live oaks, palms and bamboo. Walk the paths through the ponds to spot turtles, alligators and snowy egrets. Then, stop by the Tabasco’s cafe for pepper jelly boudin and sausages.

The grounds are lush with mossy live oaks, palms and bamboo. Walk the paths through the ponds to spot turtles, alligators and snowy egrets.

3. Drive to the Gulf at Burns Point Park

We’d continued east to our next destination: a place to see the Gulf. It’s strange knowing the ocean is next to you, but not if it is a handful or dozens of miles away. We took the old-school approach, picking a road that seemed to lead all the way to the water. From the highway, it’s 17 miles down Route 138 to Burns Point Park on the Gulf of Mexico. The road is bordered by sugarcane farms, broken up only by small batches of swamps, abandoned shacks and oil refineries. Watch the road for sunning gators. At Burns Point, there’s a boat launch and campground. The scene was pretty local. We snapped some photos, dipped our toe the muddy water to compare it to the Pacific and then hightailed it to the car when a thick brown snake slid under the rock where I was standing. On to next one!

4. Airboat into the Swamp in Des Allemands

After getting hooked on nature tours on our trip to Alaska, the first thing we booked for this trip was an airboat swamp tour. Just outside New Orleans, in the town of Des Allemands is the highly rated Airboat Tours by Arthur. We traveled down the Bayou De Allemands fast. Apparently, airboats are the best vessels ever because they glide over water and land. In fact, to get into the swamp, our captain drove our boat up and over a levee. From there, we cruised through the mossy oaks, fed a 10-foot alligator some raw chicken and zoomed through the pond lilies and water hyacinth while bald eagles and roseate spoonbills flew overhead. ▲

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    We were no less giddy the third time we took the pontoon out onto the Atchafalaya River. It was after dark. The best view of the milky way was up the river, away from the light of the wedding reception...