Kayaking is a soothing experience in itself, but paddling through the Okefenokee Swamp will bring you a certain peace and serenity that you can't find just anywhere.
Journey down to the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge in Folkston, GA, to begin your adventure through 402,000 acres of wetland paradise. Since 1937, preservation has been the number one goal of the refuge, which means you'll get the chance to experience undisturbed wildlife.
There's a reason the Okefenokee has been named one of the Seven Natural Wonders of Georgia. You'll see plants and animals you've only read about in books throughout the largest blackwater swamp in the United States.
The swamp's most popular resident is the American Alligator, which you'll inevitably spot during your ride. Whether you see them right on the bank or entering the water, they're abundantly present so you can't avoid them.
As cliché as it sounds, alligators are more scared of you than you are of them.
"My advice to kayakers, especially first times ones, is to keep your distance from the alligators. You're in their home, so let them swim by you as they please, but don't go out of your way to approach them," said tour guide Gordon Willey to Narcity.
"It's tempting to pull your kayak onto the bank to get a closer look at them, but you don't want to block their escape route, which is into the water."
Outside of worrying about gators, Willey advises visitors to bring a life vest, sunscreen, bug spray, snacks, and plenty of water. Georgia humidity in the swamp is no joke.
You may also spot black bears roaming the forest, herons flying overhead, and otters gracefully swimming by your miniature boat. You'll definitely want to bring a camera or even binoculars so you don't miss the world of wildlife surrounding you.
Certain trails are only available to overnight campers, so if you want to upgrade your experience, you can reserve a camping permit. You can find more information on reservations, here.
If you already have your own kayak, you're good to go and only have to pay for parking. You can also rent a kayak through Okefenokee Adventures. For you and your most adventurous friend, it'll be $37 for a two-person kayak rented before 1 p.m. and $32 for rentals after 1 p.m.
Come on down to the swamp to connect with a side of nature you might not have ever seen.
We strongly advise that before you go swimming or visit any location, you check the most recent updates on potential hazards, security, water quality, and closures. If you do plan to visit a location, respect the environment.