Hawaii Mom Blog: Visit Louisiana: Cajun Encounters




May 2, 2023

Visit Louisiana: Cajun Encounters

Disclosure: Our tour was hosted.  Gratuity was paid on my own.

When planning our trip to New Orleans, one of the first activities that popped into mind was a swamp tour, so we were excited for our Swamp Tour with Cajun Encounters.  

This tour was recommended due to the use of flat-bottomed boat vs air boats, which are super loud and not as environmentally-friendly.

The morning we arrived it was unexpectedly cold - in the 40s, so I actually ended up buying hand warmers from the gift shop for the kids!

We checked in, got wristbands, and all guests were divided into groups, which designated the boat they would be on.

We had the first Swamp Tour of the day, and we ended up on Captain Steve's boat.

We started the cruise along the West Pearl River, one of four branches of the Pearl River.  The Pearl River spans 440 miles from Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico.

Captain Steve said because it was so cold, it could be unlikely that we'd see an alligator since they like to stay underwater, or "brumate," to keep warm.   However, he was optimistic, and told everyone onboard to keep an eye out since he only can see so much with his own two eyes.

And within a few short minutes after the tour began, we saw a little alligator!

We could see the bumps on the alligator's tale, or scutes, which are used to help absorb the sun and keep the alligator warm.

Throughout the tour we would see a handful of little alligators.  Captain Steve threw food pellets to try and coax the alligators out, but they wouldn't budge, which was a sign that it was just too cold.  We also saw other wildlife, such as raccoons, limpkins (a type of bird), and turtles.  

Captain Steve was a great tour guide - knowledgeable, funny, and very passionate.

At one point of the tour, he was explaining to us the plants we could live off of in the swamp if we ever found ourselves in that predicament, and I was very surprised to see taro, a Hawai`i staple, in the swamp!
There were numerous patches of taro, and I thought it was really neat to see!

We went through Honey Island Swamp, which is named after the numerous honey bees that once thrived in the area.  

And if you're wondering, there were no foul smells as we were on the tour.  Many people associate swamps with foul odors, but because the water is constantly flowing in the swamp, that means no smells, and also no mosquitoes (although we did wear insect repellent just in case).

I was intrigued by the trees and the intricate root systems.
This tree was the inspiration for the "Wishing Tree" in Disney's The Princess and the Frog!

We passed by homes of "Swamp People," and learned a bit about how they live - crossing the swamp by boat if they need to get out to buy groceries, and how many make a living fishing.  

I don't know if I could ever live on a home built on a swamp, with the thought of alligators constantly lurking, but I imagine it is somewhat peaceful, with the exception of the tour boats that pass by.

Tours are approximately two hours long (use the restroom before the tour starts!), and kids do need to wear life jackets, which they provide.

After the tour, we were able to hold a baby alligator and a snake that are on display in the gift shop!

Even though we didn't see a lot of alligators, the tour was very entertaining and educational.  Whenever we'd pass another tour boat ("Gatorbait!") the tour guides would tell each other jokes, saying they didn't know where they were going, or they were missing a passenger.
I highly recommend Cajun Encounters - it's fun for the entire family!

For more information on the Swamp Tour, visit www.cajunencounters.com.

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