Since 1999, Tucker Friedman has owned and operated Atchafalaya Basin Landing Airboat Swamp Tours with his family. Tourists have traveled to the Atchafalaya Basin from all over the world to be regaled with his funny, educational, and heartfelt stories about the swamp he grew up in. “Even though I’m on the water giving tours every day, it is special each time I experience it through the eyes of a person seeing the sheer beauty of the Atchafalaya Basin for the first time,” Friedman said. Locals also makeup a significant portion of the business, many of whom have never taken a swamp
tour, including local regulars who visit seasonally to enjoy the changing ecosystem.
The family’s fleet of four airboats, able to travel on both land and water, is the largest in the area. The one-and-a-half hour tour takes you deep into the heart of the oldest cypress swamps, where you’ll see native wildlife, deciduous moss covered cypress trees, and carpets of water hyacinth.
If you’re lucky, you’ll get a chance to interact with the real rock stars of the swamp — alligators. Captain Nick Friedman, Tucker’s son, explained their special relationships with some gators, even naming some. While Sam, Clarence and Jolie all get extra attention, it is Chérie, a 20-year-old blind gator who has Tucker’s heart. “I found her about 15 years ago with thorns in her eyes. She had apparently gotten tangled up in a thorn tree. She was almost dead, but I was able to remove the thorns, and I started feeding her and got her back to health. Over time, one of her eyes came back, and was able to see movement through that eye, but she lost the other eye completely. She comes right up to me now. She knows it’s me,” Tucker said.
The Friedman’s have added a new climate-controlled boat with 20-plus capacity for corporate trips, bachelor and bachelorette parties, field trips, sunset cruises and so much more. Tucker’s daughter Christine said, “We are already booking tours. It’s going to be a whole new experience.” Smiling, Tucker looks back over the last 22 years. “I’m just glad that I’ve made friends from all over the world who come here and fall in love with this swamp. I’m grateful I can pass that experience down to my children as my legacy.”