Travel Story Up close and personal with alligators in Louisiana

Photo of Brad Kruger

"The swamps were beautiful, with overhanging trees with Spanish moss in abundance — not to mention alligators, with their log-like silhouettes floating at the surface."

One of the highlights of my recent visit to New Orleans was an adventure through the Louisiana swamps on a high-speed airboat — complete with up-close encounters with many alligators.

There is no need to worry about booking tours too far in advance — there’s an abundance of tour agents and operators in New Orleans, offering options including plantation tours, steamboat rides and swamp tours. I booked through a tour agent on the corner of Royal and Canal streets, and chose the swamp tour run by Airboat Adventures.

A 30-minute drive from the downtown, Airboat Adventures offers three to five tours each day. You can choose from a smaller and faster six-to-eight-person airboat, or a larger and slower vessel for 15 to 25 people. They cost $US95 ($127) and $US75 ($100) respectively, including hotel pick-up.

I chose the fast option, and didn’t regret it for a moment. Skimming over the surface of the water with a propeller taller than me pushing us from behind, it was a real wind-in-your-face adventure, throttling through the swamps at incredible speeds.

The swamps were beautiful, with overhanging trees with Spanish moss in abundance — not to mention alligators, with their log-like silhouettes floating at the surface. At one point, our guide — a born-and-bred Cajun whose claim to fame was that he was almost cast in the TV show Swamp People — pulled the boat up on the banks of the swamp for a live demonstration of how he interacts with these incredible reptiles.

The ride lasted around two hours and included sightings wildlife including bald eagles and the opportunity to handle a baby alligator.

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