A beginner's guide to Louisiana's outdoor adventures
To many, the southern American state of Louisiana is the ideal place to stop, take a deep breath and just relax for a while. Thoughts of the state often conjure up images of leisurely floating down the Mississippi on a riverboat, sitting listening to jazz music and taking long lazy walks under oak trees at an antebellum plantation house. In fact, New Orleans’ nickname “The Big Easy” is partly inspired by this very notion of life in the great state of Louisiana.
Americans in the know have long recognised Louisiana as a “Sportsman’s Paradise” and nowadays, more and more visitors are also discovering that Louisiana is a jam-packed playground for lovers of outdoor thrills too.
You can still take it easy in Louisiana if you want to, but here at American Sky, we definitely recommend balancing out all of that relaxing with a bit of outdoor activity adrenaline. Here are some of our favourite outdoor activities to take part in while you are in Louisiana.
Take a swamp tour
Swamps are an integral part of both the ecosystem and the image of Louisiana and nowhere in the world is more associated with swamp culture than the Pelican State. Exploring what lurks beneath their waters and getting to know the people who live beside and love the swamps is fascinating. From smaller swamps all the way up to Atchafalaya, which is the largest in the entire United States, Louisiana has them all.
Jetting off from the dock on an airboat will get your heart pumping, but no one will deny that the most exhilarating part of any swamp tour is getting up close and personal with the king of the swamps: alligators. You typically get this chance on any and all swamp tours, and with experiences ranging from getting to hold and pet baby alligators, to watching tour guides feed fully-grown adult alligators, you will feel like you are truly part of the swamp after one of these voyages. For braver folks, ziplining over the swamp has become a popular thing to do lately.
Fishing is another great active outdoor pursuit in Louisiana and if you are lucky, you might even set yourself up for a delicious dinner feast. Whether you choose to deep sea fish in the Gulf of Mexico or troll the teeming inland waters, you will find Louisiana fishing bountiful. The inland freshwater lakes and rivers overflow with bass and catfish, while varieties like tuna and amberjack are the stars of the offshore fishing game. Louisiana routinely hosts international fishing championships and if you are lucky to be there when one is on, they are usually accompanied by a fun festival for fans.
While birding might not have quite the same pizzazz as jet boating down a mossy swamp or reeling in the big one, with the amount of birds on display in the flora of Louisiana, tracking them down is an exhilarating experience in itself. Louisiana’s mild winter climate and diverse wet terrain make it a paradise for birds and subsequently for those who enjoy watching them. Louisiana’s wetlands become a temporary home for some wintering water birds, while some others use the state as a stopping-off spot as they migrate south for the winter. Not knowing if you will catch them at the precise time they are in town is all part of the thrill of birdwatching in Louisiana.
Made famous by the colourful characters on the international smash hit reality show Duck Dynasty, duck hunting in the Louisiana wetlands is a blast. Millions of ducks arrive in Louisiana after a long flight from their northern homes.This journey makes the hunting especially challenging as the ducks have been pursued by hunters all along the way and have thus honed their evasion skills. If you aren’t an avid hunter yourself, guided hunts are available, and if you’re lucky you might see the boys from Duck Dynasty in the marsh next to you.
For those that would like to explore Louisiana’s wetlands and swamps independently, kayaking is the perfect way to go. Here, you control precisely where and what you see as opposed to a swamp tour boat captain. Simply losing yourself in the maze of moss-covered cypress trees is a thrill and while you won’t find any rapids in Louisiana, but you will be rowing on top of and besides alligators, so that may just make up for it.
More information and to book: Discover the diversity and drama, the bayous and woodland of the Lower Mississippi River by river cruise.
Article written by Julia Evans.