Kayaking with New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours
One thing I wanted to do as an excursion was visit the bayou. The most common activity is hopping on a boat to jet around and see the gators, but when I was looking into companies, it seems like the fun thing to do is feed them to make them visible for guests so they are now habituated to do so. That just did not sit right with me, plus I did not need another boat ride to get me sick. I continued to look at alternative ways of exploring the bayou and stumbling upon kayaking – that sounded perfect. We love kayaking and it feels like you are way too close to the water to have artificial gator encounters. I booked an early morning kayak with New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours to explore the Mancha Swamp.
While the company charges extra for a shuttle to the kayak site, it is very far from downtown and I can’t image how long it must take to get an Uber back downtown from the middle of nowhere – I was fine paying the extra fee. The pick up location was near the French Market, so conveniently located for downtown pick ups.
The ride was about 40 minutes out to Manchac Swamp where a generous opening to the water appeared. It seems like locals frequent this area since we saw several people BYO a water vehicle of choice (kayak, paddle board) and hop in the water with provisions.
While we ended up having a larger group, our guide Brooke did a great job navigating a bunch of kayaks. Luckily, everyone in the group was chill and we had a relaxing ride. Kevin and I stayed towards the back of the group to allow for better photo opportunities and to take our time.
At first the route started in a wide area with tall trees on either side. We hugged the edge in hopes of spotting a gator or two and on our way out. We were fortunate to spot a bunch of smaller gators both on the land and swimming in the water. The ones swimming reminded us of the marine iguanas in Galapagos, and the ones sun bathing were almost kinda cute!
After meeting a few forks in the water, we eventually made our way to the part of the bayou I think we all pictured – trees sprouting up from the water, moss hung like tinsel on the trees, canopied branches. The kayaking here was quite fun as it took a bit more finessing to avoid slamming into a tree. It really was so beautiful, especially now that the sun had made its way higher in the sky. We even got the opportunity to see a smaller gator up close as we kayaked by.
The group got a chance to “park” the kayak and relax in the water and really take in the sights and sounds – the birds were going crazy!
After a few minutes passed, we turned around and headed back to the launch point, passing a few gators and turtles along the way. It was fun now to kick up our kayak mojo and get a bit of a work out in – we ended up doing 4 miles of kayaking – not bad!
We really enjoyed this excursion! After the kayaking trip in San Diego, I was nervous that this was commercialized with barely any kayaking, especially after we have had such amazing kayaks in Hawaii and Alaska recently. That being said, I was pleasantly surprised at how relaxing this trip was and how beautiful the area is! Seeing the gators was a nice plus but honestly, even if we did not see any (remember folks, nature is never a guarantee!) it would have still been a great morning out on the water exploring the bayou. I would definitely recommend adding this to your New Orleans itinerary to get out of the downtown and see the bayou.