New Orleans sits near the Mississippi River delta, where a vast network of bayous, lakes and wetlands criss-cross the fringes of America before succumbing to the Gulf of Mexico. With so much water around, sometimes the best, and often the only, way to get from one place to another is by boat. With sea levels on the rise, this method of transport will only become more necessary than ever.
One of the best activities that tourists can enjoy when visiting New Orleans is an airboat tour, and unsurprisingly there are quite a number available. Some exclusively ply the extensive network of waterways around the city, while others incorporate other sights into the tour so that those who prefer terra firma are never away from it for too long. Here are our favourite five.
FROM: $55/per person
For a chance to spend two hours winding along the moss-covered cypress-lined waterways, located around the edges of Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, check out the New Orleans Airboat Ride. A local guide provides commentary and helps to point out wildlife as and when it may appear. Alligators, turtles and snakes all live in the park. Birds such as ibis, egrets and herons are some of the many bird species that could be spotted.
From $75/ per person
With passengers limited to only six people, there is a much more personalised feel to this swamp tour. Over the course of two hours the boat will explore the waterways, having departed from Marrero. The emphasis of this tour is to discover local wildlife. Although there are no guarantees with the wild, it is highly likely that alligators will appear. Not ones to shy away from airboats, they tend to make their way quite close as the boat passes by.
From $95/ per person
For travellers who don’t have any way of getting out to the start points of some of the other tours, this is a great option as downtown hotel pickup is included. The tour itself will last two hours (not including transfers to and from New Orleans). A professional guide will help unlock the mysteries of the local flora and fauna, which are abundant on all sides once the airboat has gotten started. Group numbers on the boats are kept low at a maximum of six people.
From $150/ per person
When an afternoon exploring a swamp is not enough adventure, then check out this great tour that also throws in a tour of an old plantation, complete with costumed guides who help to lend the history some visual life. The tour starts with a downtown hotel pickup in the morning. It then unfolds over the course of up to six hours, including a two hour boat ride to explore the swamps and look for wildlife. All transfers in between, twixt swamp, city and plantation are included.
From $59/ per person
For better value and for larger groups this large airboat swamp tour is a great choice. Taking up to 16 passengers, the boat alternates between speeds of up to 35 miles per hour and virtual standstill once reaching areas where the wilderness becomes particularly fascinating. Professional guides help lend context to the flora and fauna, that’s if the wild does not first want to come and introduce itself. The fan-propelled boat can get to areas of the swamp that would be inaccessible by any other means.