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Louisiana Road Trip Part 2: Gators In Swamp Country

Louisiana - Swamp tour 2

For me, Louisiana meant one thing, a visit to swamp country.  I was so intrigued by this mysterious wetland and couldn’t wait to get out on the water and find myself a gator.  The area is just beautiful with so much on offer. Depending on the time of year, you can see various kinds of wildlife out in the swamp, from bald eagles to deer and turtles.

How did we get there?

Swamp country is a one hour drive from New Orleans.  I trawled the net and found a gorgeous log cabin with its own pool on airbnb which was located in Gray, a small town in the Terrebonne Parish. If you’re looking for somewhere unique to stay, I highly recommend this property. The cabin is located on a quiet piece of land with the owner Tom, living in a big house next door.  Tom was a fantastic host, providing us with fishing equipment for the lake out front and also inviting us to ride his horses one morning.  I’ve discussed the merits of airbnb in previous posts e.g. the opportunity to rent an entire property for the same price as one motel room, the chance to get to know a local and hear their insider tips.  My advice is to do as you would with Tripadvisor – check the reviews on Airbnb and communicate with your host to ensure you’re comfortable with the property, its amenities and location.
Louisiana - Houma - Fishing

What did we do?

  • One of my favourite activities of the entire Louisiana roadtrip was our Cajun Man’s Swamp Tour with Captain Billy Gaston.  The tour involves a relaxing two hour cruise through the bayou.  In addition to the narrated tour, Captain Billy shares his insights on the area and some of his life story.  
    Louisiana Burke Family SwampWhilst my kids weren’t so fascinated by the history of the bayou, they soon perked up when Captain Billy whistled for his alligators!  We all got the chance to fed the wild alligators and learn more about life in the swamp.
    Louisiana Alligator
  • Paid a visit to Greenwood Gator Farm (call in advance to check time of tours).  The Farm houses and hatches thousands of alligators each year.  This was an eye opening peak into the Louisiana alligator industry – I had no idea that most of the alligator skins exported worldwide were from Louisiana.  Our tour guide, the wife of the owner, was really engaging and made the tour fun for the kids.  At the end you can even hold a baby alligator and watch them feeding the big alligators out back.  Be warned, if you are anti the alligator skin industry, this is not the place for you.
    Louisiana -Houma - daisy with alligator
  • We did intend to do a tour around Southdown plantation but on arrival, found it was closed for renovation (always check in advance!)
  • Stopped off at the Laurel Valley Plantation & General Store, the largest surviving 19th century sugar plantation complex in the US.  On first glance we weren’t really sure there was much to the place but the kind man working in the beautiful General Store offered to take the kids to feed the animals out back. They had a great time feeding the goats, hens and collecting fresh eggs. There’s an interesting collection of dusty old farm equipment out the back too.  A short drive away through the sugar cane plantations are the old slave cabins in the fields.
    Louisiana - Laurel Valley Store
  • Visited the Wetlands Acadian Cultural Centre in Thibodeaux to learn a bit more about the region. This is a small collection, easily manageable with young kids although they might get bored.  For those age 6+ ask for a ‘bingo quiz’ in order to receive a Junior Ranger badge.

Where did we eat?

  • Tasted our very first shrimp gumbo and fried catfish at A-Bear’s, a cajun institution in Houma.  There is a kids menu (albeit mostly fried).  The coconut creme pie was outstanding!
    Louisiana - Abear - Cream Pie

For information on activities in Louisiana swamp land, here’s the official guide

Read more about our adventures in New Orleans!

 

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