River Travel News (Christmas Edition): A River Road Winter! Little Falls Christmas Tours! Best Holiday Towns! (robly.com)

“My family recently spent two days with The Last Wilderness. We went out on the bayous twice: once in the evening on the first day, and once in the morning on the next day. Our guide both days was the wonderful Al. Al was soft spoken, kind to our children, and obviously knows the area like the back of his hand. We saw lots of alligators. Wild ones. Neither farmed nor fed. As Al navigated our small bateau through the waterways and around stands of cypress, he told us about land ownership practices, siltation, hunting leases, and the impact of those things on the local environment. We learned about how oil companies often turn a blind eye to environmental best practices (and promises) when laying pipelines through the bayous. Al showed us both a pipeline’s scar and evidence of siltation and newly dry land. We saw, as I mentioned, alligators. We saw big ones and small ones, all wild and healthily skittish around humans. Those alongside beautiful bald cypress trees, some hundreds of years old, draped in Spanish moss. We saw countless egrets and herons. We saw American white ibises, wood storks, and roseate spoonbills. It was a wonderful experience. If you visit Louisiana, visit these guys.” – Jacob

“After researching for an ecological bayou tour we found lastwildernessswamptours on the internet. Their homepage says that they don´t feed the animals and they use small boats and that is very important for us nature loving germans . On a saturday around noon we were the only ones that booked for the appointment so we had a private 2hour tour with our wonderfull guide Al. He was very friendly and since we are educated people as well you notice pretty quickly that he knows exactly what he is talking about. We saw alligators, turtles, bald eagles, a snake and many more animals that live in the swamps. We had a fantastic tour and can only recommend it to everybody who doesn´t want a commercial tour for the masses they offer in NOLA all over the place. Thanks a lot for the wonderfull day!!!” -Thomas S.

“We really enjoyed this authentic, casual but exciting tour of Bayou Sorrel. Al was interesting and knowledgeable. The swamp was just gorgeous, even in low water conditions. The beauty of the cypress and the water is hard to explain until you are there. We saw lots of water birds, in numbers, and alligator, crawfish up close and personal in a trap. We were even able to walk, briefly, on land that is usually underwater in amongst the tree. Very enjoyable in every way.” -Christine

“One of the best swamp tours I have ever been to. It was a personalized experience with someone who really knows a lot about the area, the culture and more importantly the swamp itself. These guys are real pros!” – Nazanin Ak

“What an amazing and educational trip. We learned about the ecosystem of the swamp in great depth. From the trees to the birds and fish and the things that threaten and upset the delicate balance. If you love to learn and are passionate about the environment this is definitely the trip for you.” – Gayle K.

“I attempted to contact three different companies to book a swamp tour. Last Wilderness was the only company that answered their telephone and gave prompt, professional service when booking my tour. Our tour went deep into the Atchafalaya Basin where our guide often stopped the boat to point our animals and native vegetation. It was obvious that this company is concerned about the environment. Our guide was so helpful and patient in giving assistance to my disabled daughter who had great difficulty boarding the boat. He even included her in the conversation during the tour by asking her questions…such a rarity.” – Martha S ‘18

“A fantastic ‘Family Feel’ exploring the Bayous. A must do, and well worth the drive. Four of us, interested in getting away from the French Quarter NOLA bustle, ventured out for a 2:00 hr drive to the Northwest to experience a boat tour with the Family owned/operated Last Wilderness Tour. We traveled the scenic route West along Rte 3127, which winds along Southern marshes of the Mississippi. Something you must do on this journey is stop along the way at Donaldsonville for lunch at the Grapevine Cafe.(see my other review of this gem.) What a fabulous gem, and authentic taste of Cajun/Creole cuisine. A few minutes later, you are greeted at a local meeting spot by one of the Wilson clan. For us, it was the Son Albert. A tremendously pleasant, and courteous young guy who, you can quickly tell by the way he smiles as he describes the day to come, was born and bred in this amazing river country. The two hour tour that follows, in a stable flat bottom boat that held our group of six with room for a few more, is a truly unique way to experience the bayous and swamps. Wildlife is spotted everywhere. We saw eight bald eagles at one time circling our locations, large barred owl hunting for crawfish, wide varieties of herons, egrets and other native species….and the occasional gator floating at a distance. Fish jump constantly new the boat, as you glide through the drapes of Spanish moss. Albert tells you about the history that shaped the bayous, the hidden facts about the flora and fauna…and you come away feeling very thankful for the way Albert and family treat their guests. I strongly recommend it. From start to finish, the drive, the view of the river country, the lunch stop and the magical feel of floating through the natural stillness of the bayous is unforgettable.” – ‘18

“We loved learning about the ecology of the swamp and how it is impacted by current political and economic forces from our gentle and deeply knowledgeable and skilled guide. I heard that the larger commercial swamp tours feed marshmallows to the alligators so they come out; based on that I didn’t even care if we didn’t see any — but we did! Two young ones, so cute! What a committed and kind family, educating everyone about the land (and water) they love…They are the real deal. Totally worth the drive to get to them!” -’18

“This is an excellent tour! If you want to see first hand the Louisiana swamps, and learn about them from real experts all while having a great time, look no further!” – Kyle Johnson

“Wife and I (50’s) were told about this tour by a young lady in Baton Rouge that we had asked about must see places on our road trip through Southern Louisiana. WOW what a find! This is definitely NOT a Tourist Trap operation feeding marshmallows to Alligators. It IS the opposite, Small boat, us and one other couple plus our guide Al was as good as they get. He took his time pointing out all of the flora, funa, insects and wildlife living in the swamp. Explaining the ecosystems there, history and best of all asking for questions. NO canned tour guide memorized type dialogue. He was very keen to pick up what our group was most interested in. You will see alligators and many many other things in a very natural and remote place. The boat is small 6? passengers and very quiet compared to the Air Boat tours in more traveled places. I would absolutely do this again if I had the opportunity.” -Kenny

“We highly recommend this ecological swamp tour, which for us turned out to be a private tour. Dean is an expert of the area. There was so much to experience: herons, egrets, wood ducks, cricket frogs, crawfish and a beaver dam under the beautiful canopy of the tupelos and bald cypress trees. Plus, we even saw two soaring bald eagles as we made our way back to the boat dock.

Come support Dean’s and his family’s efforts to save the swamp basin from destruction!”

“The guides were fantastic and friendly. We thought we wanted an air boat. We got over it quickly. The tour was fun and informative. A highlight of our visit to Baton Rouge for certain. I would highly recommend this for anyone from 4-80. Be sure to ask for shanka to come along!!!! Support this company and their efforts to save the cypress forests of the atchafalya basin. We loved it!!!!!!” -Lia

“I don’t normally leave reviews, but this tour was a lot of fun. I went with a 3 year old and 6 year old, they loved it. I think it’s a great tour for any age. The tour guide was extremely knowledgable about the area.” -Lauren

“Female traveling alone.. highly recommended! Tour guide very nice and knowledgeable, with a very charming accent. Says he’s been wandering around this swamp since 1984 (and I believe him!), now he is involved in he efforts to protecting it. We discussed the history, he showed me local flora and fawna.. even down to details of which plants and mushrooms were edible. This is a good tour if you are curious about humans effect on wetlands.” -Amanda

“If you want big boats crammed with tourist and the unethical practice of baiting and feeding alligators, then this tour is NOT for you. Dean and Last Wilderness Tours is one of the most meaningful travel and education experiences I’ve been a part of. Dean is the Atchafalaya Basinkeeper and a passionate defender of the paltry 130,000 or so acres that remain of the mighty Louisiana Tupelo-Cypress swamp. His small, agile boat maneuvered into incredible nooks and crannies deep in the swamp where he showed us alligators, beaver lodges, wood ducks, bald eagles, herons, egrets and more. The two hour tour stretched into three as we soaked in the swamp sunset sureounded by a chorus of cricket frogs. The big tour companies can’t compete with this immersive and meaningful experience. The best part? Your tour fee goes on to support the future conservation of the Atchafalaya Basin. A win-win all around.”

“If you’re going to New Orleans, this tour it’s a MUST DO/GO! It it’s the same price as the the other touristic corny swamp tours but this one it’s almost private and it last 2 hours. You will have a chance to really feel the swamp and its magnitude. The tour it’s awesome and every penny was worth it! Definitely would go back again, highly recommended!” -Christiane

“Our 2 hour tour with Al showing us something of the Atchafalaya Basin was one of the best experiences we’ve had on this or any other holiday. We wanted to see and understand the swamp, not race through it making a lot of noise (airboat tour) in order to teach alligators bad habits with bad food. Al gave us that and more, memories we’ll never forget. We saw alligators and turtles (from a distance, because they’re wary wild creatures). We saw cypresses, herons, egret and ibises, we saw dragonflies and damselflies, astonishing huge spiders. We learned about high and low water, and how to catch crayfish. We stopped and listened to woodpeckers, we watched minnows.
And we also saw the damage caused by the oil and gas companies, from pipelines casually dredged through the wetland to an alligator that swam to our boat, expecting food. One day, when it is a little larger, it will swim to some other boat and receive a bullet rather than a handout.

We were awed and amazed by the wonders of the Atchalaya Basin Swamp that Al showed to us. We want to come back.” – Drake

“When planning our trip to New Orleans, we tried hard to find a sustainable, informative tour that offered more than the usual marshmallow-fed alligator watching. My group agreed that we would like to learn more about Swamps as a natural habitat while at the same time doing as little as possible to aid in destroying it (ahem, airboats, ahem). It took a lot of effort and research to find Dean and his tours (Last Wilderness) but I am so glad I did. We set up a date and time over the phone and then on the day drove 1 1/2 west of NOLA in our rental car for our tour. Dean has a small boat for 8 pax, but that day we were alone with him. He drove us around the swamp for almost three hours and told us so many things – his love and passion for the swamp was palpable and it’s so sad how this wonderful habitat has been affected by climate change and humans. I would highly recommend taking the time to drive out to see this gem of a tourguide and his chosen home. It is educational, informative, NO airboats/marshmallows/annoying tourists anywhere near and you get to see all the species that inhabit a swamp, not just alligators (who are actually really shy). If I could give Dean 10 stars, I would. I think his work for the Atchafalaya Basinkeepers is admirable and important, and I plan on spreading the word as much as I can. Thanks, Dean!” -Corina M., District of Columbia

“As Sierra Club members who wish to protect as well as experience the natural environment, we found this tour to be particularly enlightening. In addition to seeing plants and wildlife in their natural habitat, we also witnessed damage caused by logging, drilling and canal building that are changing this unique ecosystem forever. Our guide was Dean Wilson, an activist at the forefront of the effort to preserve what is left, and the fight to restore what has been lost. Taking this tour assists those important efforts, so you will have fun, learn a lot, and help to preserve a national treasure.” -Larry Bernath, Virginia

“On our recent trip to New Orleans we wanted to finally make a trip to see a swamp. Many of the advertised swamp tours are in large air boats and I feel promote a fairly circus-like atmosphere by luring the alligators towards the boat with marshmallows or other food. While doing a little research into a few different swamp tours, we came across this “Last Wilderness” company and it seemed that what they provided was more what we were looking for. They use a small fishing boat, not these enormous air boats, and as a result can get deeper into the swamp and more up close with a lot of the wildlife. They do NOT feed any of the wildlife and in fact specifically state on their website that they cant promise you will see any alligators due to this but the fact of the matter is that almost every time you will see all sorts of wildlife including alligators.
Plaquemine is about 80 miles (or an hour and a half drive) from the French Quarter , for those of you who would be staying in New Orleans. We got a rental car for the day to go here – this company is small and does not include any transportation so that part is on you. It is a father and son who give the tours; you would have to call them to reserve a tour and in our case we were the only two people on our tour. The normal procedure is then to meet up at a place called “The Bayou Bait Shop” which is a small little shop about a mile or so away from where you will launch into the river which leads you to the swamp. We got a full two hour tour, and the price was 40 dollars each which we found is a little less than the larger swamp tour companies. We felt this tour was definitely worth the little extra effort to get to – the Father part of this father and son team is the Achtafalaya Basinkeeper and has spent his life fighting for the preservation of the swamp and is very passionate and knowledgeable about it. The son, who gave us our tour, is also very knowledgeable and showed us some ancient cypress trees as well as explained the methods of catching crawfish. We couldnt have been more pleased with this tour and would highly recommend it to anyone looking to explore the swamps.” -Chris K., Chicago

“My family and I decided to road trip to New Orleans, and while we were there we wanted to go on a swamp tour. However, we ran out of time and were unable to do so. We drove up to Plaquemine, LA to visit relatives. Thankfully, they suggested the LWST so we went for it!

This tour was simply amazing! Our tour guide, Albert, was a very sweet, young, and knowledgeable guide! His father started the company many years ago and is very passionate about the environment and the Atchafalaya Basin. His father spearheaded the Save Our Cypress Coalition that managed to stop most of the cypress logging in coastal Louisiana; he taught Albert about the Atchafalaya Basin and his son seems to do most of the swamp tours today.

This tour is great for all ages. The youngest person on the tour was 19 and the oldest person on the tour was 87!  Al definitely accommodated to our needs and was able to answer all our questions. If you want more information about this tour I suggest you visit the website! But some highlights of this tour (taken from the website) are:  “you will experience breathtaking views, gigantic cypress trees, local culture, and native wildlife. This tour is not an alligator tour. Alligators seen on the tour are wild alligators and many times we won’t see any alligators. We do not feed alligators.” That being said we did see 3 baby alligators during our tour.

I am so glad we did not do the typical touristy swamp tours offered in New Orleans and were able to experience and learn about the swamps in a more genuine way. I am so happy that we supported a family business, who is working to educate others- this tour just felt so authentic and I would HIGHLY recommend it to anyone who is visiting Baton Rouge/Plaquemine!”- Marilynn P., Chicago

“The guide knows everything about the swamp. He explains the different animals and plants. However, he also points out the problems coming from the human influance and the invasive species. It was an unforgettable experience and we recommend everyone to book this tour.”

“This tour was absolutely fabulous. Our tour guide was amazing and had so many cool little facts. The swamp area was gorgeous. It was an awesome experience for the whole family and I would definitely recommend this to anyone visiting or in the area.” -Natasha Jones, Pennsylvania

“Had and amazing time today. Our guide had loads of information and took us to many beautiful locations. It was sad to hear how the gas industry has impacted the ecosystem but great to know there are business such as this one working towards conservation and preservation.” -Christopher Butler

“If you plan a swamp tour and happen to be a responsible person, choose this one. Such a nice guide, dedicated to nature and preserving these beautiful and gorgeous landscapes. Fully recommended!” -Sebastian Vatterodt

“Dean, this was the most important stop on our trip. I’m so grateful for your honesty and straight-talk about environmental issues. I can’t thank you enough.” -Sarah Mabey

“I will never forget this great tour and wish Dean great success with his fight of the swamp.” -Sabine and family, Germany

“Our tour with Al was interesting, informative, fun, and memorable. We enjoyed the beauty of the bayou and appreciated learning about the efforts to preserve this environment. Thank you and good luck with all you do!” -Tom Martin & Birsu

“I could not have spent my birthday in a better way. This has been fabulous. Thank you.” -Dianne

This was an excellent tour of the Atchafalya Basin area. Al was a knowledgeable guide and very respectful of nature and the environment. He was great at spotting wildlife and stopping so we could view the animals. He was so patient and caring to my disabled daughter who needed a tremendous amount to assistance getting in and out of the boat. I attempted to contact two other swamp tour companies in the area but they never answered their telephones. Last Wilderness personnel were prompt and courteous during the reservation process. -Martha

Eco-friendly, professional tour in the swamps. We had a very nice time chatting with our guide, he was very helpful and friendly. The family has been organizing tours and taking care of the swamps for a long time; which is reflected in their passionate way of explaining everything about the swamps. Would absolutely recommend them. -Estafania

This was the most tranquil tour. It was beautiful and when he turned off the boat we could hear the sounds of the swamp. We saw an owl, snake, spiders, alligators and Bald Eagles. It was fun and peaceful. I loved it!!!! -Christy

Great trip! Kids loved every moment! Awesome foliage and critters! Even though it was cut short due to the weather- the fast boat ride back to the dock was exhilarating!!!! -Heidi

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