Explore the Okefenokee Swamp - USA

Laid back alligator lounging on a log in the Okefenokee ~

Alligator in the swamp
Alligator in the swamp | Source

Be adventurous and cautious ~

To explore the Okefenokee Swamp is a very unique and wild adventure. It is a place where one has to be very alert to the surroundings. Going through the swamp is fascinating and hard to not look at everything around -- but, always be alert to your surroundings, for there are wildlife species you do not want to come in contact with.

Swamps seem to have mysterious and dark histories from legends and lore of the local people who live near or in such lands. Yet if one can ignore the ghost stories and creatures who prowl through the mists and murky waters, there is a lot of beauty and natural wonder to be found. The Okefenokee Swamp is one such place where vacationers and campers will find some very unique experiences.

The Okefenokee, covering approximately seven hundred square miles, is the largest swamp in North America. It lies on the border of Georgia and Florida. Most of the swamp is part of the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge which covers 403,000 acres of peat filled bog land.

So, what does one do in a swamp, besides watch carefully for the wildlife and do not interfere with it -- or stay clear of the carnivorous plants, such as the giant Sarracenia minor okefenokeensis, (also known as the Hooded pitcher plant)? In the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge and the Okefenokee Swamp there is a lot to do.

Adventorous ?

Would you go into the Okefenokee Swamp?

  • Sure, I think it would be a great adventure.
  • Not without a guide to protect me.
  • No way !
  • Not without a guide and some protection.
  • Are there wearwolves in there?
See results without voting

History of the Okefenokee ~

The history of the Okefenokee is very interesting. It began forming during the Pleistocene period, 1.806 million years ago. It was the sixth and last epoch of the Cinozoic Era which is referred to as the Age of Mammals. Mammals began to populate the earth prolifically at that time because the extinction of larger species, such as the very large reptiles. Some birds at that time were larger than the normal human and were ferocious predators.

The Earth then started a time of cooling and drying, which led into the Pleistocene Epoch, the last glaciation period. This also when the continents began moving and what we now know as the Appalachian area slammed into North America.

So, the Okefenokee swamp is basically in the area that is a relic of the last glaciation and continental mergers.

Two major rivers, the St. Marys River and the Suwanee River have their headwaters in the Okefenokee. In the heart of the Okefenokee is where the Suwanee begins with channels of streams and flows south to drain eventually into the Gulf of Mexico. The St. Marys flows south then north and on the eastern side of what is called Trail Ridge, eventually finding the Atlantic Ocean.

Wildlife ~

Wildlife viewing is phenomenal and changes every month of the year due to the many different species and their time of activity. The variety of birds to be found is amazing. Herons, egrets, ibises, cranes, bitterns, a well as numerous smaller birds have made the Okefenokee home.

American alligators are prolific throughout the swamp. The swamp is also a home to the Florida Black Bear -- it is a habitat that is critical for the survival of this bear. There are also different species of wild pigs and numerous amphibians, reptiles and rodents.

And without a doubt some spiders ~

Brown recluse
Brown recluse | Source

Cuddly looking, but stay clear, for there most likely will be a very protective mama pig near ~

Wild boars can be found throughout the swamp
Wild boars can be found throughout the swamp | Source

Great White Heron ~

Heron with fish
Heron with fish | Source

Florida Black Bear ~

The average male Black Bear is 300  pounds, but some have grown to over 500 pounds.
The average male Black Bear is 300 pounds, but some have grown to over 500 pounds. | Source

Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake ~

Rattlesnake
Rattlesnake | Source

Carnivorous plants ~

Among the numerous variety of plant life are the carnivorous plants.

Carnivorous plants can be found throughout the swamp and there are many varieties. Most of these plants are described as 'pitcher plants'. The normal size plants trap insects, but some of the larger ones will capture and devour rodents and reptiles. Below are photos of just some of these hungry carnivorous plants. Many are quite pretty in their own way.

The swamp is a part of the Southeastern conifer forest ecoregion, which contains the bald cypress. Further upland the southern coastal plain has oaks and hammocks.

Hooded Pitcher ~

The hooded pitcher sends up new plants from the mass of rhizomes, which are stems of the plant that grow underground and stores nutrients such as starches and proteins. The plant is a perennial, native to the Western Hemisphere.

This particular species has pitchers of 10 to 12 inches high, and is small compared to a larger form with pitchers that are 3 to 4 feet high and grows in the marshes between Georgia and Florida.

The carnivorous Hooded Pitcher ~

Hooded Pitcher carnivorous plant,  Sarracenia minor var. okefenokeensis.
Hooded Pitcher carnivorous plant, Sarracenia minor var. okefenokeensis. | Source

Darlingtonia californica, the cobra plant ~

The cobra plant has deceptive exits in its balloon aperture. The colorless spots are translucent to allow light through. This confuses the prey trapped inside. The insects become exhausted trying to get out through the false exits and eventually fall into the tube.

Cobra plant ~

Darlingtonia californica, the Cobra Plant
Darlingtonia californica, the Cobra Plant | Source

Cephalotus follicularis ~

The leaves of this carnivorous plant resemble moccasins which lie close to the ground. A spiked arrangement at the opening of the pitcher allows insects inside, but prevents them from escaping. The insects are trapped in the digestive enzyme fluid and consumed by the plant.

This carnivorous Cephalotus follicularis looks rather wicked ~

Cephalotus follicularis
Cephalotus follicularis | Source

Special events ~

Approximately 400,000 people from around the world visit the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge every year.

There are tours, with guides, that can be taken, using motorboat, canoe or kayak. Some other adventures include hiking, hunting, fishing, boating and boat tours, canoeing, bicycling (on paved roads only), and an excellent opportunity for the nature photographer. Nature Photography workshops and contests are also available. The Chesser Island homestead is on the eastern edge of the Okefenokee and a must see, must learn about attraction. Their family history is very interesting.

Special events are planned throughout the year. You can easily go online to Okefenokee Swamp for more information on the animal refuge information and lodging.

~ ~ ~ ~

Note from author ~

Thank you for reading my article. Your opinions are important to me and let me know your interests. This helps me to offer more of your favorite subjects to read about. Your time and interest are very much appreciated. I hope to hear from you in the comments section below.

I write on several different subjects, all evergreen articles. You can read more about me and see more articles I wrote by clicking on my name by the small picture of me at the top right of this page.

Blessings and may you always walk in peace and harmony, softly upon Mother Earth.

Phyllis Doyle Burns - Lantern Carrier, Spiritual Mentor
~ ~ ~ ~

© 2014 Phyllis Doyle Burns

More by this Author


Comments 36 comments

Jodah profile image

Jodah 2 years ago from Queensland Australia

The Okefenokee looks like quite an interesting swamp. I especially find carnivorous plants amazing and beautiful in their own way. Voted up.


DDE profile image

DDE 2 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

No way would I explore the Okefenokee Swamp it sounds a great adventure but not for me I would leave that to the experts. Great hub.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Jodah. It is a fascinating place. I would love to go through it on a boat. Thanks for being my first visitor and for your comment. I so appreciate your visits.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Devika. Watching the video is good enough for you, yes? It is a rather intimidating place to go into, but I think I would feel safe on a boat. I appreciate your visit and comment, thank you so much.


Eiddwen profile image

Eiddwen 2 years ago from Wales

What a wonderful hub Phyllis; so well presented and informed. I love anything to do with nature and this one is indeed a great treat.

Voting up and sharing.

Eddy.


sheilamyers 2 years ago

I've never been to the Okefenokee Swamp, but I'd like to visit it. It would be so awesome to see some of the animals and plants I've never seen before. Well, I should say I've never seen them in the wild because I have seen them in zoos and botanical gardens. However, to me, it's always better to see them in their natural state so I can watch the way everything interacts. Great hub!


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

This was intriguing. I would love to see the birds but unfortunately I do not have the money to travel. Plus I can do without alligators, snakes, bears and other things that were there. Otherwise it was well-written and detailed and very interesting. I enjoyed reading it. Voted up and shared.

Kevin


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Thank you so much, Eddy, for such a nice comment. I love nature, too, it is in nature where we come closer to our spirit and the wonders of the world. I so appreciate your visit, votes and sharing. Have a great week, Eddy.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Sheila. I would love to visit the Okefenokee. I am so amazed at the variety and number of species there, plant and animal -- and the birds, my gosh. I watched a few other videos and am so intrigued by the whole area. Thanks, Sheila, for you visit and comment.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Kevin. I am in the same boat, cannot afford the trip, but the videos I found on YouTube are great. Believe it or not, I chose the one I did because of the birds in the video and I thought you would like that. Aren't they amazing? Thank you so much for the visit, votes and sharing, I really appreciate it.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

Phyllis,

I liked the video too and besides the birds I enjoyed looking at the nature.

Kevin


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

I am glad you enjoyed it, Kevin.


Randy Godwin profile image

Randy Godwin 2 years ago from Southern Georgia

Hi Phyllis, I live close to the great swamp and have visited it many times either sightseeing or fishing. I noticed there were two of my hubs listed at the bottom of this article, one I wrote about my great-great-grandfather and his brother--one a sheriff and the other his deputy--both murdered by the family of a man they'd arrested earlier. The other hub was about the people themselves and how they survived and thrived as 'swamp crackers.

I enjoyed reading your take on the wonderful Okefenokee and am presently working on a tale about the town built on Billy's Island deep in the swamp. Voted this one up! :)


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Randy. That is quite a story about your great-great-grandfather and his brother. I must go read that. Thanks for the heads up. I am really curious about the 'swamp crackers' and how they lived. I noticed Billy's Island when I was researching and wanted to learn more, now I will just wait for your hub.

Thank you so much for the visit and your comment and the vote. I really appreciate it, Randy.


tirelesstraveler profile image

tirelesstraveler 2 years ago from California

Such a large area which few know much about. Nice job of educating us.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi tirelesstraveler. Yes it is a huge area. There is one hubber here who knows a lot about the 'great swamp' as he calls it. Randy Godwin has a few very good hubs about the Okefenokee, the people who lived there and their life style. One about his great-great-grandfather is very interesting. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 2 years ago from North Carolina

Very fine overview of that wondrous place. Glad our friend Randy has some of his stories in the DMH section, too. Thank goodness for its protection. You know what, Phyllis, there just may be some panthers roaming about there as well. They could be from up from the Everglades way and many reliable people who have seen them in the swamp and in S Georgia over the years.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Thank you very much, Alastar. I read Randy's hubs on the Great Swamp and found them very interesting as well as informative. He is a fine writer for sure and a fine friend to have -- you and Randy both have that wondrous southern goodness. You know, I feel bad about not mentioning the Florida Panther and other big cats that prowl that neck of the woods -- odd that, since the Puma is my Power Animal/Totem. Thanks again, Alastar, I always appreciate your visits.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

This hub just received an Editor's Choice Award. Thank you, Team HubPages -- I appreciate this.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

Congratulations Phyllis. :-)

Kevin


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Kevin, hello and thank you so much. You are such a faithful follower and great fellow hubber.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

You are welcome. :-) It was a couple of weeks ago but I just received one of those too Phyllis.

Kevin


Jackie Lynnley profile image

Jackie Lynnley 2 years ago from The Beautiful South

I use to see those huge old alligators in Florida years ago and wondered did they dope them or something. Maybe they just kept them fed good is why they didn't come after me. lol


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Kevin, congratulations to you, too.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Jackie - that is funny. That ol' gator does look a bit lethargic. hahaha


Frank Atanacio profile image

Frank Atanacio 2 years ago from Shelton

Phyllis this I s a well rounded hub.. put together wonderfully.. the photos .. remarkable thank you once again for sharing


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

You are most welcome, Frank. I am always glad to hear from you and so happy you enjoy my hubs. Thank you so much.


The Examiner-1 profile image

The Examiner-1 2 years ago

Thank you Phyllis. :-)


PegCole17 profile image

PegCole17 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

Amazing photos of this interesting area right in my old haunts. We grew up hearing tales about the Okefenokee Swamp from my grandmother who used to have a camp spot on the Suwannee River. I loved reading more about this intriguing place.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Peg. Your grandmother must have really enjoyed her camp on the Suwannee -- I bet she had some great stories to tell. The Okefenokee seems like a very magical place as well as very mysterious. Thank you for reading and commenting, Peg.


rebeccamealey profile image

rebeccamealey 2 years ago from Northeastern Georgia, USA

My goodness! Bears and alligators all in one place! I have always wanted to go down and visit the Okefenokee. Thanks for providing some great background information.


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Rebecca. It is a very different place. One has to be constantly aware of wild life, and should have a guide to go through the swamp. It is beautiful, magical, fascinating, scary, mysterious ... a whole different life style. Thanks for reading and commenting.


JanieceTobey profile image

JanieceTobey 2 years ago

I visited the Okefenokee Swamp with my girl scout trip when I was in about 5th grade. That was a long time ago though, and I'd love to go again! You've selected some absolutely beautiful photos for this page! I especially love the images of the carnivorous plants!


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 2 years ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Janiece. Those carnivorous plants are really something, aren't they? I do hope you get to go again to the Okefenokee. My sister and her husband visited there many years ago and really enjoyed it. Thanks for stopping by to read and comment. I appreciate it.


pstraubie48 profile image

pstraubie48 23 months ago from sunny Florida

This is indeed a treasure often over looked by those who visit. I have visited there a number of times and often feel as if it is my first visit as it is new and different each time.

Thank you for highlighting this so beautifully, Phyllis

Angels are on the way once again today ps


Phyllis Doyle profile image

Phyllis Doyle 23 months ago from High desert of Nevada. Author

Hi Patricia. Thank you so much for reading and commenting. I really had fun researching the Okefenokee and writing about it. I appreciate your visit and very kind words. Thank you also for Angels.

Many blessings to you.

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