new orleans travel guide: do the swamp tour with cajun encounters

Before I visited New Orleans, my knowledge of the place was pretty much limited to three things: Mardi Gras, po’boy sandwiches, and the bayou.

How many books have I read about the dark things that happen in the swamp? Countless. (Apparently, it’s a great place to hide bodies. The gators eat up all the evidence.) Okay, sorry, that got really dark, really fast. Apologies. But in my defense, it was all I really had to go on.

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Anyway, what I’m trying to get at is that it seemed crazy to go to New Orleans and not do a swamp tour. So on our first full day in NoLa, we were whisked out of the city to the bayou, in all its humid, gator-filled, murky-watered glory.

Really, the tour had everything I could have wanted: We were on a boat (I love boats), we got to see some gators up close, and our guide was pretty funny and definitely informative.

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As we glided through various waterways, Captain Clutch (not his real name, but apparently it’s what he goes by? I couldn’t tell if he was serious) regaled us with stories of the biggest gators that live in that particular swamp and other wildlife that live in the area (snakes, boars, raccoons) and pointed out the different plants and their origins and the different kinds of homes folks live in in the swamp.

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He told us a little bit about Katrina (which was 13 years ago, if you can believe that) and its effect on the swamp, and how you can still see evidence of the damage left behind by that devasting storm, even all these years later.

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As the piece de resistance, Captain Clutch fed some of those gators nice and close to our boat. It’s amazing how much air they can actually get, considering they only use their tails to propel them forward (see, I learned something new; I just assumed they used their feet for swimming, but nope, it’s all in the tail). You can watch a video of the aforementioned feeding below:

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It was an enjoyable and entertaining way to spend a couple of hours. It’s one of the things I would do again whenever I bring my husband to New Orleans (I’ll tell you about some of the stuff I wouldn’t bother doing again when I go back in future posts.) If you like boats and like learning about wildlife and a different way of living, then you’ll enjoy this tour. So go do it already!

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Vertical lift drawbridge in Slidell, Louisiana, built in 1933 (which was also probably the last time it was painted). Bridge operators need four hours’ warning to lift the bridge. 

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