The Okefenokee Swamp should be considered a "must see" for every nature lover. It is located in the Southeast corner of Georgia, bordering the Florida state line. I have had the privilege of visiting the swamp twice during the past 14 years. The word "privilege" isn't too strong of a word to use. Indeed, I count my visits as blessings.
The magic begins with the air. Many people envision a swamp as a foul and stagnant cesspool of a place. Not so. The air seems to be filled with freshly minted oxygen. As I journeyed through the swamp, occasionally I would stop, close my eyes, and just breathe; savoring the freshness of the air like one savors a cold glass of pure water. And the freshness of the air makes sense. Life is everywhere in abundance. The Okefenokee is lush with plant life. And what do plants do? They convert carbon dioxide into oxygen. The air very much feels as if your lungs are taking it directly from the plants.
"But there are alligators" many of my friends say dismissively. And with that thought, they walk away from the idea of visiting the swamp. "Yes," I reply trying to win them back. "There are alligators. But alligator attacks on humans in the swamp are very, very rare. And the swamp really is a delight to the senses. . . the rich colors of the Golden Club or the Lotus floating upon the dark tea stained tannin waters is art in its highest form. And the chorus of a million toads and frogs at night is a symphony that isn't to be missed. And did I mention the feel of the air as it bathes your skin? Or the odd sensation of the earth moving beneath your feet as you venture off of a boardwalk?" "But there are alligators" is the reply to my entreaty. And these, my friends, refuse to visit the swamp because of the alligators. Tis a pity. (The earth really does move as you walk across portions of the swamp. "Okefenokee" is the Indian word for "land of trembling earth".)
I visited the Okefenokee Swamp in March on each of my visits. The late winter time or early spring is probably the best time to visit. This is primarily because the insects aren't too bad at that time of year. I have read that the biting insects such as mosquitoes, deer flies, no-see-ums, etc. can make visits unbearable during the summer months. The weather is also mild during March before the blazing Georgia summer sun moves in to beat the inhabitants down.
The following are a few photos that my friend Dr. Ron Van Houten and I captured. All of the photos were taken on a one day visit to the swamp in 2007. Be sure to click on the photos to be able to see the larger size.
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Paddling on a canoe trail with my son Sebastian and Ron's son, Remington
Signs Marking the Canoe Trails
American White Ibis (Eudocimus albus)
If you need a sign to tell you not to mess with 200lb reptiles, you probably shouldn't go to the Okefenokee Swamp
Stepping onto the "trembling earth"
A carnivorous plant- the Sundew (Drosera)
Enjoying the swamp
Florida species of the Cottonmouth (Agkistrodon piscivorus)
American Alligator resting amid the Golden Club plants
Ron taking photos along a boardwalk
Another carnivorous plant, the Pitcher Plant (Sarraceniaceae)
The largest species of squirrel in North America- the Fox Squirrel (Sciurus niger)
Spanish Moss covered trees
American Alligators swimming