You shouldn't leave this area without exploring its bayous and swamps. Gliding through misty bayous dotted with gnarled cypress trees that drip Spanish moss, seeing native water creatures and birds in their natural habitat, and learning how Cajuns harvest their beloved crawfish is an experience not to be missed.

To arrange a voyage, contact McGee's Landing Atchafalaya Basin Swamp Tours, 1337 Henderson Levee Rd., Henderson (tel. 337/228-2384; www.mcgeeslanding.com; $20 adults, $18 seniors, $16 children ages 4-12, free for children 3 and under). The 90-minute tours, at 10am, 1pm, and 3pm, go to Henderson Lake in the Atchafalaya Basin, with "extreme" private airboat tours also available ($50 for adults, $35 children; these last 2 hr.); and nighttime tours by prearrangement. There's a cafe, shop, campground, and some floating guest cabins at McGee's, too.

There's a lovely natural swamp environment in the very heart of town on the grounds of the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Although it's small, it gives the effect of being in the wild, with several varieties of water birds and turtles almost always on hand. Spring brings Louisiana irises and gators. It's used as a teaching tool; contact the Communications and Marketing Department, University of Louisiana at Lafayette, Lafayette, LA 70504 (tel. 337/482-6397). If you just want to get closer to the sort of swampland seen most often from highways, you'll like Cypress Lake, next to the Student Union on the ULL campus, between St. Mary Boulevard and University Avenue and Hebrard Boulevard and McKinley Street.

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Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.