Discover America's Largest Swamp
Welcome to the Atchfalaya River Basin, America’s largest swamp and one of its most ecologically varied regions. With its towering, moss-draped cypress trees, 300 species of birds and 54 species of reptiles and amphibians, this million-acre swath of southern Louisiana boasts a natural bounty and unmistakable splendour that few in the modern world will ever witness. Great American ‘gators, with their thick limbs and powerful tails, roam the wetlands, while, underwater, 90 species of fish and shellfish are their prey. However, it's in the boats above and on dry land where you will find the most resilient residents, known across the world for their food, vibrant culture and unique dialect. They are: Swamp People.
This swamp community, many of whom are hardened descendents of French refugees forced out of Canada during the 18th century, gave birth to the infamous ‘Cajun’ culture and makes up a significant part of southern Louisiana’s population. Swampers make their living as loggers, hunters, trappers or fishermen, snatching gators out of the murky depths by day and stirring them into a stew by night. But, despite the fertile bayou soil and bountiful resources, life in this majestic environment has never been easy.
In 1927, disaster struck when heavy rains caused the Mississippi River to break out of its levee system in 145 places, decimating many of the Basin’s communities. This sparked a mass exodus that dramatically reduced the population and, even today, the threat of evacuation hangs over the bayous as the US Army Corps of Engineers fights to keep the bloated Mississippi from flooding the basin.
Nevertheless, the folks who dwell here continue to embrace the trades and traditions of their ancestors. They accept and even welcome the challenges they face as part of every day life on the banks of the Atchfalaya River Basin. Nature may rule – but only the Swamp People can tame it.