Now I wouldn’t necessarily think of putting together the words kayaking and swamp into the same activity, but that’s exactly what I did today. The Believe It Tour team ventured deep into the Dairen, Georgia swamp via kayak on a quest for Darien’s legendary sea monster, Altamaha-ha or Altie.
We met up with Danny Grisette, who runs Altamaha Coastal Tours, who was our guide for our exciting adventure. We decided that a kayak trip through the various waterways around the area would be the best way to experience the natural habitat and see if we might have an Altie encounter.
The tour started out in Buffalo Swamp, which is considered a tidal forest. A tidal forest is an area with plants and trees that are tolerant of salt water and can withstand the rise and fall of tidal flows. The swamp was filled with amazing plants like swamp blackgum, tupelo, and cypress trees. As we paddled down the narrow waterways Danny regaled us with interesting facts about the plants we were seeing, the animals we were hearing, and the general ecology of the area.
As were moving from the Buffalo Swamp into the Cathead Creek area, Danny related his own story of Altie. A few years ago, when exploring the swamp alone, he saw something large, smooth, and mysterious looking in the water. He knew it wasn’t an alligator, but thought he must be seeing a monster of some sort. Was it Altie? Actually, about 10 minutes after thinking that Danny realized it was a wandering manatee and not Altie. However, he did say that other locals have had a number of supposed Altie encounters.
To read more about Altie and the folklore around the sea monster visit our earlier post on Darien’s sea monster at Altie or Altamaha-ha of Darien, Georgia
Once we entered the Cathead Creek area it seemed as though we were in a different land. The Cathead Creek waterway was formed from irrigation canals for old rice fields. The passageway we went down was narrow and difficult to pass in spots, but it was beautiful. However, I have to admit that I did have my own exciting encounter in this area. I was slowly navigating a narrow spot when I caught some movement to my left. It was an alligator sliding from the bank into the water right next to me. While it gave me a bit of an adrenaline rush I’m happy to report that was all there was to my encounter. Obviously, had something gone awry I wouldn’t be writing this right now! For people that kayak in the waters it’s a regular occurrence and no one really thinks twice about it according to our guide.
After about a three-hour trip through the swamp our journey finally came to a close. While we didn’t spot Altie or have any unexplained encounter we did have an absolutely amazing kayaking trip through the swamp that only strengthened our appreciation for the beauty of Georgia and Darien in particular.