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3 Best Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana

Check out our 3 Best Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana list if you want unforgettable vacations. The Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana was one of the exquisites of our experience. Gnarled cypress trees dripping with lush Spanish moss look so mysterious that you feel like you’ve returned to an ancient land in time. Dense Spanish moss hides wild inhabitants of southern waters like alligators, turtles, hundreds of birds, raccoons, and more. Visiting Louisiana or New Orleans without bayou swamp tours is not complete. Louisiana swamp tours are amazing and allow you to observe wildlife. So, we share The 3 Best Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana reviews with you.

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The Best Swamp Tours in Louisiana: photo collage with swamps, racoon and bird.

3 Best Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana – Our Experiences

Louisiana is a state with a rich history and past, wonderful architecture, Cajun culture, vibrant music, and excellent food. The most famous city in a state where one can experience its richness and diversity is, without a doubt, New Orleans.

But Louisiana also offers ancient and wonderful nature. The swamps are home to diverse ecosystems, and winding waterways hide amazing wild nature. So, during our visits, we booked some Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana, and we shared our reviews and experiences. We also gave tips on preparing for the Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana.

This is not a sponsored post because Chris and I paid for each trip with our own money. That’s why we share our honest opinions without any external influences and present our own photos that we took during these trips.

Moreover, we aim to offer you our first-hand experiences and valuable tips on how to prepare for the trip and what to expect, including what to take into account before booking a trip, what to pack, and more.

Trip Tip Planning: If you plan a trip to New Orleans, check out related articles: New Orleans 3 Days Itinerary, Mardi Gras New Orleans Itinerary, and 5 Best New Orleans Plantation Tours.

Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana

How to experience the Best Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana?

To experience the scenic swamps of Louisiana, you must take a guided tour. The guides introduce you to the world of nature and the history of these amazing Louisiana swamps. They know perfectly the hiding places where animals rest and soak in the sun, so you have a chance to spot them closely.

The best selection of swamp tours in Louisiana with great prices, you will find on Viator.com, which is the Trip Advisor company, and Get Your Guide. There are many options to choose from, like tour boats, airboats, or kayaks. Below we describe some of them.

OUR PICK: Our best choice was this high-speed 9-passenger Airboat Tour, as we took the best photos during this trip and were closer to animals than from a larger boat. You can check the price and availability below.

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Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana: raccoon in the water between trees.
Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana: alligator hidden in green seaweed.

What’s the difference between a bayou and a swamp tour?

When you visit Louisiana and New Orleans for the first time, you may be surprised by Bayou Swamp Tours’ name. We were. We felt a little confused. What is a Bayou? What’s the difference between a Bayou and a Swamp? And most of all, where can we spot and photograph wild swamp animals?

What is a Bayou?

A Bayou is a Franco-English term (from Cajun French). Bayou is a body of water typically found in a flat, low-lying area. It can either be an extremely slow-moving stream or river, a marshy lake, or a wetland.

Bayou is used almost exclusively to refer to Louisiana and the Mississippi River Delta’s water bodies and the adjoining areas, including southern Mississippi, eastern Texas, and Arkansas. Moreover, the Louisiana bayou on the Mississippi River Delta is a natural barrier between inland areas and natural disasters like hurricanes and tropical storms.

What is a Swamp?

A Swamp is a forested wetland. The Swamp area is a land saturated with water at all times. These areas are covered in cypress swamp trees and hardwood swamp trees, which grow in the water. The fauna adapts to both conditions, land and water.

So, when you visit the New Orleans area and the Mississippi River Delta, you will often meet the term a bayou swamp tour specific to this area.

raccoon in water during Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana
cypress swamp trees
Bayou Swamp Tours in Louisiana

What animals live in the Bayou Swamp in Louisiana?

Louisiana’s swamplands are a paradise for nature lovers and wildlife photographers. Beautiful and menacing, they are teeming with exciting flora and fauna. Swamp Tours in Louisiana offers an in-depth peek into winding waterways and all their fabulous creatures.

During our bayou swamp tours in Louisiana, we encountered alligators soaking in the sun. We also photographed a family of raccoons playing on the marshland and turtles stretched lazily on branches and stones.

Anhingas had spread their wings in front of us, like at a fashion show. These beautiful birds are also called snakebirds, American darters, or water turkeys.

turtles on the marshland
anhingas on the tree during bayou swamp tour.

Moreover, there are over 200 species of birds on Louisana’s swamps. Marshlands are full of fish, so it’s a paradise for egrets, cranes, and herons. If you are lucky, you can also spot river otters, wild boars, and nutria, also known as river rats.

When is the best time of day to see alligators?

During summer, morning hours are the best to spot alligators in a swamp in Louisiana. Therefore, if possible, book a morning bayou swamp tour. Usually, they start around 9.00-9.45 a.m. Later, gators hide in the shade. In the winter months, around noon, you have better chances to encounter alligators when they try to catch some sun.

a white heron in a swamp with a fish in its beak during Bayou Swamp Tour in Louisiana
raccoon between trees in the water

How much is the Bayou Swamp Tour?

Prices depend on the type of swamp tour and the number of groups. Private tours for several people are more expensive. It is definitely worth spending a few dozen dollars per person to see the Louisiana swamps.

The standard tour itself on the boat is just under 2 hours. And during this time, you have the opportunity to spot the wildlife. The prices start from $35 per person on a larger boat, making the tour affordable. A spot on a smaller airboat is from $80.

Small airboats usually have 6 to 11 seats, with slightly higher prices. But in a small boat, you’ll get deeper into the bayou. The cheapest option is a medium airboat, which can accommodate up to 18 guests, and a large boat, which can accommodate up to 30 guests.

huge aligator in a green swamp during swamp Tour in New Orleans

What do you wear to the best swamp tour in Louisiana?

Do you get wet on an airboat? What to pack for a bayou swamp tour? How to prepare for it?

If you’re wondering what to wear on a New Orleans bayou swamp tour, it depends on the season and the weather forecast. So, check the weather before your trip.

Clothes for Swamp Tours

  • Wear comfortable, loose clothing for your bayou swamp tour.
  • You should wear comfortable trekking shoes or sandals with a good grip, to not slip on the boat.
  • We highly recommend bringing a raincoat or a poncho. You can get a little wet on the boat.
  • Take a light jacket. It might be a little windy on the airboat swamp tour.
  • Sun protection is essential. So, take a sun hat, sunscreen, and don’t forget sunglasses.
racccoon in swamp

Other essentials for Swamp Tours

  • If mosquitoes are in a given season, a repellent may be useful. Mosquitoes are usually not a nuisance during the day. If you want to use a bug spray, remember to do it before boarding the boat. We often use Mosquito Wipes.
  • Camera. There are endless photo opportunities on the bayou swamp tours in Louisiana. If you want to capture wildlife, bring a camera or smartphone.
  • Some cash. If you are satisfied with the swamp tour, it will be a nice gesture to tip the crew.
  • Bottle of water. Remember to stay hydrated, especially in summer.
  • Don’t take food on the boat. Wild animals cannot be encouraged with smells or leftovers.
  • Do not take large bags or backpacks. There is no place for luggage on the boat.
bayou swamp tours: trees on the water
bayou swamp tours in New Orleans: greenery and trees in the water.

What is the best swamp tour to take in New Orleans?

We only share our opinions from the best bayou swamp tours we did. Close to the huge city as New Orleans, you can feel and experience the pristine wilderness on a boat.

Bayou Swamp tours in the New Orleans area typically go north of the city to the Honey Island Swamp, half of which is preserved for posterity as part of the Pearl River Wildlife Management Area. Some go south to the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, and others head west to Maurepas Swamp Wildlife Management Area.

Small-Group Swamp Airboat Tour – a perfect choice for photography enthusiasts

Because we wanted to be as close to wildlife as possible and wanted to photograph animals, we chose this Small-Group Swamp Airboat Tour for 9 passengers.

It was a great choice. An experienced local guide and being close to nature made this trip an amazing adventure. So, if you love taking pictures of wildlife like us, choose this swamp tour.

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heron in a swamp with a fish in its beak

Honey Island Swamp Boat Tour – perfect for families

But if you want a lower price, we can also recommend the Honey Island Swamp Boat Tour. There are about 20-30 people on the boat. But you can also observe wild animals from it. You can also take some photos and have a great adventure. We also encountered alligators and raccoons on this swamp tour.

We were a bit further but still could spot animals. It was a perfect trip at an affordable price. So, if you are not a photographer, it’s also a good choice.

Guided Kayak Swamp Tour – for adventure lovers

Finally, on our bucket list is the Guided Kayak Manchac and Maurepas Swamp Tour. As we had no time to do this one during our last trip. We will definitely use this option on our next visit to New Orleans. Thanks to this tour, we can get into narrow bifurcations between trees. We will be closest to wildlife in complete silence.

We hope you found this post helpful. If you like it, please share it.
We wish you a great bayou swamp tour in Louisiana!
It’s a fabulous adventure.
And if you are planning a visit to New Orleans, check our 3-days NOLA Itinerary.


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  1. I am going to have to admit, when I first saw this post, how the heck can a ‘swamp tour’ be appealing to visitors to Louisiana. For me, its just boggy water and might be a bit smelly in places. However you have describe this not in this way (did it smell by the way?) and actually made it appealing to visit the swamp. However, I would do this because of the wildlife. I never seen raccoons and alligators in the wild before and would love to check them up close (well, not too close). I havent been to a swamp like this before so would find it interesting. I just hate the word ‘swamp’, it just doesnt sound appealing. 😀 Oh well….anyway, Louisiana, I will tick you off soon and hopefully I do a swamp tour. 🙂 

  2. I don’t really know much about the bayou in Louisiana and I didn’t know the difference between a bayou and a swamp, but now I do. Sounds like a great experience and all the wildlife you captured in your photos looks amazing. So different to the wildlife we’re used to seeing in the UK. Love to do this one day. 

  3. This is very interesting. I’ve been to multiple marshlands & swamps, and spotted several birds, small wildlife incl. jellyfish, but never one with crocodiles or alligators in it! I’d love to go here. Love your photographs of the wildlife there. Esp., the photo of egret with the fish in its beak is just awesome! Perfectly timed shot. 

  4. I have never heard of these swamp tours but now you may have convinced me to try it one day! We are particularly interested to see all the wildlife but my partner is probably scared of ever seeing any alligators. The birds would also be of particular interest.

  5. Surprisingly, I also enjoy visiting the nearest swamps and observed how the local wildlife lives and enjoys nature. BIrdwatching is my favorite activity and sitting next to the swamp with a picnic basket. This kind of slow travel gives us good vibes and makes us feel calm.

  6. Louisiana is famous for its bayou and swamps. I haven’t done the tour yet since I was afraid if the alligator would bump to the boat. But I guess it won’t happen when you go with an experienced tour guide. It’s really unique and I love all your wild animals pictures. 

  7. Very interesting tour. I never knew the difference between a bayou and a swamp, so I’m glad I found out. We’ve been in New Orleans many times, but never thought of taking a tour of the bayou. I would like to see the Mississippi River Delta and spot some of these animals. The raccoons are out-of-this-world cute!

  8. I have never done swap tours but this swap tour in Louisiana looks great as there are so many exotic wildlife to spot on. I was also not knowing the difference between Bayou and swamp but good to find it in your post. More popular is swamp which I have knew. Good to see here alligators and swamp trees growing from water. Everything looks very fresh here and also a great opportunity to take amazing pictures here.

  9. My first impression of a tour of a swamp wasn’t too appealing although I love being around water. But a view through your eyes has changed that impression. It would be great being amongst the animals. Louisiana swamps should be a good option since you suggest.

  10. I think I’d be nervous to take a kayak tour, getting that close to the gators! The tips regarding which time of day is best for viewing the wildlife is really helpful.

  11. Your photos are absolutely stunning. I love wildlife and there is so much to see. I also now the the difference between a bayou! I had even heard of such a thing before! 

  12. I’m a complete scaredy cat and am terrified of alligators, so the only tour I can see myself doing is the biggest group tours. I want there to be as many bodies between the alligators and me as possible!

  13. Oh how I would LOVE to do this! The only thing I’ve done (so far) that comes close is an airboat tour in the Everglades a million years ago. Love all of your photos! <3

  14. Oh, this post brings back wonderful memories of my very first trip to the US. I took the greyhound bus from South Carolina to Louisiana – with many stops. New Orleans was my final destination, and from there, I discovered the bayous. Fascinating culture – and delicious food….unforgettable!

  15. We would definitely want to try a bayou swamp tour when we head back to Louisiana.  But I should surely want a tour to find the safer spots to go.  I must admit I would be worried about alligators.  A small boat might be too close to the water for me.  Although it would be worth it for the other animal delights.

  16. This is something I’ve always wanted to experience after seeing the Bayou’s on American TV and films. It looks so interesting I’d love a boat tour to guide us round. Great article

  17. Although I had spent a number of years in US, I had not been to Louisiana. Your description of bayou swamp tour is interesting and I might give it go if I have the opportunity to visit Lousiana. I love the idea that it offers an experience of wildlife encounters. The last time I saw an alligator up close and personal was in Everglades, Florida

  18. It’s amazing to realize a place like this exists in the US, it’s like another world apart from where I’m from on the west coast. I’d be a bit nervous about encountering alligators, but I guess they usually don’t attack. It would be an exciting experience nonetheless.

  19. I would love to do a bayou swamp tour in Louisiana. The landscape with the water and the trees when the sun filters through looks so enchanting. Nice that you can spot crocodiles and racoons on a tour! Do you know if there are also kayaking tours available?

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