Today we ventured out into the Honey Island Swamp in Slidell, Louisiana in search of Alligators and wild swamp life. We weren't disappointed!
Slidell is a short drive from New Orleans and was hit quite hard with the infamous Hurricane Katrina back in 2005. Evidence of the wreckage can still be seen on the banks of the swamp as the boat swiftly travels upriver past dilapidated swamp houses and cabins, structures built piece by piece by locals who come out here to escape civilization and hunt for alligators, fish or catfish, or just sit back on their porches and watch the various shrimping boats go by.
Our guide took us deep into the swamp, a world flooded by the river and full of still brown water flowing through cypress trees covered in Spanish moss. The moss got its name from the early Native Americans who thought that the beards the Spanish explorers wore resembled the moss hanging from the trees.
The small boat navigated us from the larger channel of the river into narrow side channels that were barely wide enough to allow the passage of our boat. Willows and branches scraped the sides as we crept through the narrow waterways.
Honey Island Swamp
Egrets, beautiful white birds that call this place home, flew over us and stood watching us on logs and trees by the water. It wasn't long before we were passing dozens of turtles out sunbathing on logs and rocks just above the waterline. They would quickly slip into the water and disappear if we got too close.
Beautiful white Egrets
And soon we encountered our first of many alligators, a massive leathery reptile roughly four meters long. Our captain enticed it up next to the boat with a marshmallow and hotdog on the end of a stick, which the alligator gulped down without chewing. The hot dogs had been dyed red to keep them from looking too much like human fingers. Apparently there have been "issues" in the past. I didn't ask for any further explanation.
Getting up close and personal with swamp Alligators
We spent two hours cruising through various bayous and river channels that threaded through this exotic and expansive swamp world. We saw about a dozen more alligators of all sizes, most within arm's reach of the boat, which kept us keeping a very close watch on all our fingers and toes. It was a great day and a great opportunity to see this famous and less-traveled scenic and cultural corner of America. Yet another unique and beautiful world within this one huge and diverse country. Life on the road continues to be amazing!
TrekAmerica offers a swamp tour as an optional activity on the Grand Trek. The Grand Trek is six weeks of none stop travel from coast to coast and back again, crossing 23 states! If you want to experience the untouched wild swamps of Louisiana then this might be an optional activity for you.