While staying in Lafayette, LA we went on a swamp tour. Definitely something on my bucket list! We chose a small family run business called Champagne Cajun Swamp Tours on historic Lake Martin in Breaux Bridge, LA. On a rare clear day while we were here, we enjoyed the drive thru the historic area with french creole names on about everything, soggy fields of tall sugar canes and muddy swamp land everywhere. The landscape is so different from the rocky, rugged Texas hill country covered in cactus, oaks and cedar trees we are used to.
Our tour guide was Bryan Champagne. He and his wife have been running the tours for 20 years. When we were chatting before the tour he told me he also manages 600 crawfish cages which he baits, catches and sells to local restaurants, when the price is right! He has guided many documentary and international television crews, etc. thru these swamps and been written up in several travel magazines. Also about the big gator that lives around the dock and how dogs are his food of choice. He says in his lazy cajun accent, “I can jump in do boat repairs no problem but if a dog jumps in he grabs him right away don’t ya know.” Glad we didn’t see that!
Bryan talked about bayous (barely moving lowland rivers), swamps (permanently flooded land and forests), and marshes (swamps with vegetation so thick that you can walk on it). This swamp is only about 1 1/2 ft. deep and about 6 ft. deep in the lake. The bald cypress trees drop their needles in the fall/winter and produces acidic tannins. This makes the black/brown color of the water and repels mosquitoes. The surface of the water is covered in a tiny little green plant called duck weed, not scum. The Spanish moss growing in the trees looks soft and feathery. It catches nutrients in the air and water and actually improves the cypress trees that host it. Many of the bald cypress trees were hundreds of years old! The cropped look of the trees are from hurricane damage.
All the info was great but I wanted to see alligators and we did! We saw some babies and 2 to 3 year olds! Unfortunately because of the colder weather the majority stayed hidden on bottom of the swamp. Bummer! We did see so many species of birds, turtles, plants, etc. and learned so much about this unique and amazing landscape. It is definitely a different way of life in this area and we loved learning all about it. Enjoy our pictures and caption explaining each one!