On a hot and sultry afternoon, I boarded an airboat for a swamp tour guaranteed to be an adventure on the Louisiana bayou. Up until this experience, I had only seen photographs of Spanish moss-covered trees and murky swamp water in the Mississippi Delta. I was concerned about getting outdoors and perhaps real-life mishaps with alligators and poisonous snakes.
I needn’t have worried. Our airboat captain made it very clear that if we touched the passing greenery or pulled on the vines, we ran a considerable risk of having a poisonous snake jump into our boat. He said if that happened, he would make like a fat Jesus and run across the water to get away from the boat. Imagine that sight!
The bayou freshwater acts like a filter as the mighty Mississippi makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, the bayou water is only a few feet deep. But, it is home to snakes, turtles, water birds, hawks, owls, and bald eagles, along with deer, raccoons, and many voracious alligators. Especially the kind that love marshmallows.
We found that alligators behaved like dogs. When the alligators hear or feel the airboats, they respond as they have been trained to do. They come out from their lair and beg for the marshmallows they are sure to receive. Some airboat captains bring raw chicken to feed the alligators and have them perform for the tourists on the airboats.
Airboat Adventures, Inc. is located in Lafitte, Louisiana, Barataria Preserve in the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. That's in Jefferson Parish, which is between New Orleans and Louis Armstrong International Airport. They provide an exceptional experience to get up close and personal with the wildlife and landscape on the bayou.
Get outdoors in the Deep South, but I advise against using a hammock on the bayou. Plan to spend some time there. You won’t be disappointed.