But I wanted to go, and didn’t mind making a solo trip. I did my research – TripAdvisor plus advice from a New Orleans native – and booked a morning excursion with Airboat Adventures. (I love to photograph birds so I thought morning would be the ideal time to go.)
TripAdvisor reviewers said “Highlight of our trip” and “Must Do!” and “Exceeded our expectations.”
Per Airboat Adventures’ website:
Our Airboat Swamp Tours are approximately 1hr 45min – 2hr long in which you’ll have opportunities to see alligators, snakes, turtles, egrets, herons and ibis. we sometimes see hawks, owls and bald eagles. You may also see white-tailed deer, nutria, raccoons and other mammals, though they become mostly nocturnal in the heat of the summer months. It’s fast! It’s fun!
Airboat Adventures is located in Lafitte, a 30-minute ride from New Orleans.
I chose the $95 small-boat option (which holds 6-8 people, and included hotel pickup and return) so that I would have good visibility for what I hoped would be great photo opportunities.
Unfortunately, by the time we were finally assigned a boat and guide and got out onto the water, it was late morning and the birds were scarce.
And shortly after our boat reached open water, the guide discovered a mechanical problem, stopped and dropped anchor, and phoned for a replacement.
He then spent 20 minutes sharing facts about the swamp area – and showed us a baby alligator he kept in a cooler on-board – while we waited for another boat.
After we boarded the replacement vessel we sped into the swamp, skimming along the top of the water and looking for alligators and other wildlife. The scenery was eerily beautiful, and we did see a few alligators – including two that came up to the boat for their marshmallow treat. However, the tour did not meet my expectations and I felt it was money poorly spent. And as the last line of the Airboat Adventures website states: All payments are nonrefundable.
Shaking off the disappointment, I returned to the French Quarter to enjoy the Festival. In Jackson Square the crowd danced and listened to the music while food vendors around the perimeter offered some of New Orleans’ famous delicacies: BBQ shrimp po-boys, grillades and grits, turtle soup …and Jacques-Imo’s famous shrimp and alligator cheesecake! While I am not a fan of shrimp, and the thought of eating alligator would normally make me feel a little queasy, I had seen a video of how this savory cheesecake was made and I felt adventurous!
(Besides, after a poor experience on the swamp tour, eating alligator sausage seemed like poetic justice!)
It Was Delicious!
Would I take another swamp tour? Probably not, and certainly not with Airboat Adventures.
However, I WOULD eat Shrimp and Alligator Cheesecake again!
Airboat Adventures – Accessibility
When I asked about wheelchair accessibility I was told that passengers could leave a wheelchair on the dock, where “it would be safe” until they returned. Of course, they would need to be capable of transferring into and out of the boat.
Per their website: “Pregnant women, children under 5 years old, and people with neck/back problems are not allowed to ride airboats.”
All photos ©2015 ImagesByRJM