From the classrooms to the bayous

Lester Duhe

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web1Marcus Kondkar

Professor Marcus Kondkar is the chair of the sociology department at Loyola, but his other passion includes giving swamp tours on the weekends.

Originally from England, Kondkar moved to the United States at the age of 18 to attend college. He moved to New Orleans in 2000 to teach at Loyola.

Kondkar said he takes full advantage of events happening in New Orleans every weekend, whether he’s taking his motorcycle out to different Louisiana towns, attending festivals in the city, hanging out with his seven-year-old daughter or even canoeing in Bayou St. John.

But on weekends, Professor Kondkar gives swamp tours alongside a friend.

Kondkar is the tour guide for Marshall’s Lost Land Tours, which he said aims to promote the serious “land-loss problem” happening in Louisiana’s coastal wetlands. He said he does environmental touring usually for people who travel here from out of state.

“The tours give the people a more educated sense of what’s going on here,” Kondkar said.

Kondkar takes tour guests into some of the most beautiful cypress swamps. He does not speak much on the tour because he wants the focus to be on the swamps.

 “It’s about how incredibly beautiful it is and realizing the value of preserving the swamps,” he said.

 The tours usually last anywhere between four to six hours, giving tourists the opportunity to experience all that the swamp has to offer.

Kondkar, along with Bob Marshall and his wife, said that once people see firsthand that the swamps are threatened, more legislature will come about.

Kondkar said he finds the tours to be quite therapeutic, and although he has been offered money to perform the tours numerous times, he refuses to accept any kind of compensation.

One time, Kondkar recalls having a snake fall from a tree into a tourist’s kayak. The tourist, without question or hesitation, picked the snake up and threw it out the boat.

Another of Kondkar’s favorite experiences occurred when he was taking a family from New Jersey out to see the bayou. A beautiful brown owl was spotted. It flew right over their kayaks, and a feather fell directly into their boats.

The last trip he embarked on was taking incoming Tulane students to Bayou St. John to canoe, as a part of their orientation.

While spring and fall are their busy seasons, Kondkar said things usually are very slow at Lost Land Tours, because it is “not a constant thing.” Tours only occur when there is high interest and when people want to learn more about the wetlands.

He would love to start going on night trips into the bayou, and hinted that the company might expand the regular tours to the Gulf so tourists would be able to see dolphins.

Kondkar said he sees his hobby as a type of community service and a very important part to our culture in Louisiana.

 “It’s a great excuse to get out into the bayou,” Kondkar said.

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