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Turtles and alligators were two of the more common animals in the canal.
Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge - Boat Tour
Closest available address
2700 Suwannee Canal Road Folkston GA 31537
Contact operator for specific times, generally tours run from 9:30am to 4:45pm.
Best time to visit
Fall, Winter, Spring
The Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge boat tour is a 90 minute narrated swamp excursion on the eastern side of the refuge. The motorboat follows the Suwannee Canal for about a mile or two and then enters into a more open prairie environment for about half a mile. The tour costs $18.50, and the boat can hold up to 16 people.
The Okefenokee Refuge is 402,000 acres and about 350,000 acres are wilderness. The word Okefenokee translates into the land of the trembling earth. This is in reference to numerous peat bogs in the swamp which can move when stepped on. The swamp has large numbers and varieties of wildlife, including mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles. Birds are also quite numerous and you likely will see wading birds such as herons and egrets and possibly some vultures and eagles. The tour runs year round but spring tends to be the busiest season due to more moderate weather and larger numbers of wildlife. Summer is a fairly quiet time for humans but is quite popular among the mosquitoes and yellow flies.
The boat tour left and returned on time. It was an intimate affair with only 7 passengers. The boat operator described himself as a “7th generation swamper who grew up with the old timers and heard all the old tales.” He was generally pleasant but not especially informative. It was like a reader’s digest version of the swamp and its history, which was too bad because he seemed like a guy who could have shared some good stories. He also had an annoying habit of picking out plants from the muck and handing them around. These plants were better to see than to touch. He did point out some of the wildlife and stopped the boat for a few minutes so we could enjoy the silence of the prairie. All in all, the tour provided a decent introduction to the swamp environment but was not very memorable. It can work though as a swamp BlitzQuest when time is limited. If you want an in-depth experience, consider renting a canoe and going camping.
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