Okeefenokee trip

I am planning on taking my first trip to the Okeefenokee swamp in mid April. I would appreciate any advice and suggestions from those who have been there before. We will be camping for two nights. Are the bugs bad in mid April? Are the gators up to speed or still too cold to move fast? Anything special that I need to take? Thanks for any input!

Sherry in GA

I’d like to go!
Haven’t paddled the Okeefenokee swamp. Been a few, times usually in a boat/motor or walking. Since I got a canoe I’ve been wanting to paddle it some and do an over night trip with my kids. One day (weekend) we’ll get to.

There are several books on the swamp and there is also a good pamplet the park service provides which shows routes and points of interest.

We may be going camping at Fargo, late April and i plan on taking my canoe then so I can check it out there. I’ve been to Waycross many times (born there) and over to Folkston, but not Fargo, and I hear it’s the most interesting entrance.

Take care.


'gators and
mosquitoes don’t get too active until end of April, beginning of May. But I wouldn’t worry about 'gators if I were you. They will actually add quite a bit to your experience. If there were crocs, well, you might think about going “ready for bear”, since they’re SO more ornary of a beast. In Florida, it’s not unusual to bump them as you paddle along, the waters are dark, and they lay just below the surface. The worst experience I had was getting a good soaking from a fairly large bull 'gator that thrashed with it’s tail after we bumped him unintentionally. I was sitting in the rear of the canoe, so I got the brunt of the “tsunami”. To be honest, it was a lot of fun!

But as with any wildlife, be respectful and keep your distance. Any encounters with “meat eaters” must be appreciated for what it is, and tempting fate by getting closer to get “that perfect snapshot” is to be avoided. Personally, I relished the fact that they were there, I know many people do. For me that’s part of what makes being on the water worth the effort…among many other things!!! Have fun, I know you will…

May 19
I called to make reservations for a cabin a couple of months ago. Compared my schedule with what they had open. And made the reservations for May 19th.

Are you saying that I’m going to get eaten alive by mosquitoes?

I think the swamp is beautiful. I like going thru the enchanted forest to the sill. Lots of turns but quite beautiful.


Take some
Skin So Soft. It works pretty good on keeping the bugs gnats away. The mosquitoes aren’t really that bad, just early morning late afternoon. Since your staying at a cabin I guess you’ll be cooking outside some. We camp a lot and we love the little candle things made by Off, they work great for us.


Things to bring

– Last Updated: Mar-02-07 12:53 AM EST –

Was on a 3 day trip in the Okefenokee Swamp a week ago. Saw two mosquitos. Water temp was mid 50's and the gators were out swimming around, but most were on south facing shoreline mudflats catching sun. Water level is about 20" below normal right now and the gates on the Sill are wide open so there won't be any improvement in swamp water level until the downstream watershed of the Suwannee can support sufficient flow in the river. The rangers closed the red trail that were we suppose to be on, so we had to settle for a plan B trip on the Stephen Foster side. I suggest you ask now if your permitted route is currently open or closed and keep track of that status and the water level. April is a very popular time to paddle in the swamp, so alternative overnight routes will be at a premium then. Things to take:
- Be prepared for raccoons. Bring rope to hang your food from a tree if you are on ground or from the rafters if you are on a chickee. Raccoons ran off with some of our washed plates, bowls, and silverware (most we found back in the palmettos).
- free standing tent if you are on chickees (no tent that requires stakes). Bring some extra cord to tie the corners of the tent to the chickee shelter posts if it is windy.
- Bring your good paddle and a beater. In dark stained low water you don't always see the underwater stumps just waiting bind your paddle on a power stroke and snap it.
- 12" mud boots. Low water means landings are not in the usual spots and it may be muddy. Boat landing at the chickees is almost an impossible climb out right now.
- bring one gallon fresh water per person per day.
Don't count on using a water filter.
- If you camp on ground, I found a small folding table handy to cook on. You don't need this on the chickees as there are corner shelves to stand and cook at.
Other than that, just bring the usual overnight river canoe trip gear. Enjoy your trip. It's a beautiful place to paddle.

Avoid taking this Kayak