.

.
Borrego Springs, CA

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Okefenokee Swamp boat tour

Part of my orientation to the Okefenokee NWR yesterday included a swamp boat tour with Okefenokee Adventures, a concessionaire that partners with the refuge to provide tours and rents canoes, kayaks, and boats. 

_MG_1148 IMG_1113

In case you are ever in the area, these tours are available every day of the year except Christmas Day.  It’s an hour and a half tour, and starts out down the Suwanee Canal.  As a point of interest, any motorboats in the Okefenokee Swamp must have motors under 10 horsepower.  No big motors allowed.

71 Okefenokee NWR 2012-132

I believe our trip covered about five miles all together, and was very interesting.  This canal was started in 1891 with the objective of draining the swamp.  Thankfully, it was an unsuccessful endeavor!  A short way into our journey we entered the National Wilderness Area, which means any travel into this area is very limited in number of people each day and any travel into it must be registered and reserved ahead of time.

71 Okefenokee NWR 2012-133

After a couple of miles down the canal we took a side branch down a water trail toward the Chesser prairie.  In my mind, prairie meant dry land with no trees, but in a swamp it means a wetland area with no trees.  The water is shallow and the color of root beer due to all the tannin in the water, but it is very clear. 

One of the major ingredients in this swamp is peat.  Peat is partially decomposed remains of plant matter that accumulates on the bottom of the swamp.  When enough methane gas accumulates in this decomposing peat, it rises to the surface and is called a peat blowup.  It looks like solid mud to the eye, but if you grab a handful of it and squeeze the water out, you end up with a handful of plant matter.  It doesn’t smell bad at all.  If enough of these blowups accumulate, they become a battery, and other plants and trees begin to germinate in these dense mats.  We stopped half way through our trip so our tour guide, Joey, could explain all of this to us.

I especially enjoyed learning about how the swamp changes and evolves and seeing some bladderworts and sundew plants.  They are among the several different varieties of carnivorous plants found in the swamp.  Today I went on a mission to find the two varieties of pitcher plants found on this refuge, but I’ll show those in a separate post.  I was pleased with myself on the boat tour when I was able to identify the yaupon holly (ilex vomitoria) that I learned about at Mississippi Sandhill Crane NWR in MS.  Smile  Those are the red berries in the above collage.

IMG_0545

Because of the very chilly and windy temperatures yesterday morning, we really didn’t expect to see any alligators on this tour.  It was a surprise to all five of us on the tour when one of the women on the other side of the boat spotted one in the lily pads.

IMG_0550

This fellow/gal was about five feet long, and I really liked the view as we floated past.  All those ridges leading down its spine gave it a rather eerie look to me.  Once the tour was over, I grabbed a quick lunch and then spent the afternoon learning about the operation of the visitors center (VC).  There are a lot more steps opening and closing this VC compared to the other places I’ve volunteered at.  It will take me a few days to get them all down pat.  I think my biggest challenge is going to be unlocking and locking the money vault.  My left and right don’t seem to be the same as the directions are. Confused smile

Thanks for stopping by… talk to you later,  Judy

19 comments:

  1. Cool picture of the alligator in the lily pads. Almost looks like a skeleton.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That looks a lot like the swamp tour we just took in LA:)

    ReplyDelete
  3. We took that swamp tour when we visited the Oke - mostly remember the alligators! Again... lovely photos!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Great gator pictures. Such an interesting Swamp tour. Thanks for sharing all you have learned. Good luck with that left and right thing. I'm better at north, south, east and west than Left or right. Hope you get everything opened up OK.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Even just looking at gator pics makes me feel slightly sick in the stomach! I can't help imagining being dragged under by something like that! Aargh, now I really psyched myself out....!

    ReplyDelete
  6. What a great header picture and PERFECT quote to go with it! I laughed out loud. You are so clever! But I doubt he'll get you my pretty or your little black dog! Neither of you is the right size for dinner I suspect!

    Love hearing about the swamp. We kayaked from about that same point down the canal and out to the prairie. What a wonderful time we had. The water was low, the gators were everywhere. I keep my distance but find them so interesting.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Swamps, wetlands, and estuaries are fascinating places. . .I'm going to include a link to your article in my latest blog post. . .we didn't see as many interesting things as you did. . .but we thoroughly enjoyed the week we just spent in an East Texas Swamp. . .

    Janice

    ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing.blogspot.com

    FaceBook.com/ReadyToGoFullTimeRVing

    ReplyDelete
  8. Looks like you will be seeing quite a few gators here

    ReplyDelete
  9. Great gator picture, it looks well fed. How many boat tours never came back?

    ReplyDelete
  10. A great tour with even better photos! Your wonderful “gator” shots really make me miss our southeastern swamps.

    John and Ellen
    connectedtothevinephotography.blogspot.com

    ReplyDelete
  11. Thanks for taking us along on the swamp tour. The only similar tour I did was in FL, and it was on a big boat with a noisy engine ... I look forward to someday kayaking through a swamp for a more peaceful experience.

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love swamp boat tours. We had a great one in Alabama. Your tour looks wonderful. Enjoy your new adventure.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I know that area so well. Need to get my canoe back down there, SOON!

    ReplyDelete
  14. Place is looking lovely.. i would love to visit there..

    ReplyDelete
  15. I've always wanted to take one of those tours in a swamp boat although I'm deathly afraid of alligators.

    ReplyDelete
  16. Wow - you and your camera will be in your element while at Okefenokee, and I can't wait to see the pics you post! Enjoy!

    ReplyDelete
  17. "Kullu Manali provides best tours packages and unique experience to its visitors.Kullu Manali is a good and natural beautiful place to explore with kullu manali tour packages."

    ReplyDelete
  18. The scenery here looks amazing. You get to experience and observe animals in their natural habitat, which is really cool. It is really amazing to go to this kind of boat tour. I have been to corryvreckan boat trips myself and I really enjoyed the marine wildlife there. This swamp boat tour is now part of my list.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks for sharing brilliant information! I really appreciate with this post, Keep posting such kind of things always. Thanks again. Pet Classifieds.
    www.pet-buy.com

    ReplyDelete