Side Trips from New Orleans Feature

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Alligators Up Close: Swamp Tours

The bayous, swamps, and rivers of south Louisiana's wetlands present a tantalizingly unfamiliar landscape to many visitors, and the best way to get better acquainted is by boat. Tour operators offer convenient departure times and hotel pickups in New Orleans. Most tour operators use pontoon boats, but—depending on the size of the group—a bass boat might be used. Anticipate from one to two hours on the water and 45 minutes to two hours' commute time to and from New Orleans. Prices are generally around $20 per person. Expect to see nutria, a member of the rodent family that resembles a beaver in appearance and size; egrets (a white, long-necked heron with flowing feathers); turtles; and the occasional snake. During the warmer months, alligator sightings are common. Many of the guides use either chicken or marshmallows to attract them. Plant life includes Spanish moss, cypress, water oaks, and water hyacinths (a member of the lily family). In the summer months, be prepared for the heat and humidity—and don't forget the insect repellent and a hat.

Cajun Country Swamp Tours. These tours are led by guide Walter "Butch" Guchereau, who was born, raised, and still lives on the banks of Bayou Teche in Breaux Bridge. An experienced outdoorsman with a degree in zoology and biology, Guchereau uses Cajun crawfish skiffs for his tours to make them environmentally unobtrusive. His son Shawn also leads tours. 1226 N. Berard St., Breaux Bridge, LA, 70517. 337/319–0010. www.cajuncountryswamptours.com. Tours daily.

McGee's Landing. Pontoon boats take passengers out daily for 1½-hour tours of the Atchafalaya Basin. McGee's is a 25-minute drive east of Lafayette. Tour times are contingent upon the presence of at least four passengers. The company also organizes canoe, kayak, and airboat trips. 1337 Henderson Levee Rd., Henderson, LA, 70517. From I–10, Exit 115 at Henderson; 1 block south of the highway turn left on Rte. 352 and follow it more than 2 mi east over Bayou Amy; turn right atop the levee onto Levee Rd. 337/228–2384. www.mcgeeslanding.com. Tour $20. Tours daily 10, 1, and 3. Additional tour at 5 during daylight saving time.

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