Unusual boat trip on the Huchet current

Léon
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On holiday in the charming Landes village of Léon, along the Atlantic coast, an unmissable discovery is in order. Nicknamed “the Landes Amazon”, the Huchet current is a 12-kilometer natural wonder that connects Lake Léon to the ocean. Accompanied by a boatman, this trip aboard a traditional boat, the famous Landes "galupe", is the most bewitching way to soak up the unique atmosphere of this atypical watercourse, classified as a nature reserve since 1981.


The Huchet current : one of the most fascinating places in the Landes

When we talk about the Landes, we rather imagine kilometers of fine sandy beaches, bordered by majestic dunes and vast pine forests. Yet the Landes conceal a multitude of unsuspected places often unknown to the general public, which offer another perspective on this seaside destination.

The boats of the Courant d'Huchet Reserve

The boats of the Courant d'Huchet Reserve

Stroll on the Huchet current

Stroll on the Huchet current

The boatmen of the Courant d'Huchet

The boatmen of the Courant d'Huchet


From the shores of Lake Léon, the colorful wooden boats are a real invitation to an unusual trip of a few hours in the company of a boatman. This unique experience to explore a preserved wild environment is the main mode of guided tour of the reserve, located in the three municipalities of Léon, Moliets-et-Maa and Vielle-Saint-Girons. With 5 other nature-loving passengers, I embark on Jérémy's “galupe” for 2 hours of bucolic visit along the current. Non-motorized and equipped with a flat bottom, silent and respectful of nature, these small boats are the only boats authorized to navigate on the current in order to preserve the fragile balance of the ecosystem.


A biodiversity sanctuary on the border of the fantastic

The boatmen of the Courant d'Huchet

The boatmen of the Courant d'Huchet


The walk begins with a peaceful paddle crossing to the “floating marsh”. Jérémy knows the place perfectly well and has made it his adventure playground since he was a teenager. He passionately shares his expertise on the local flora and fauna while paddling vigorously towards the “Nasse”, at the confluence of three passages that cross the floating marsh.

As we enter the 230 hectare nature reserve, Jérémy exchanges his oars for a paddle to begin the descent of the Courant d'Huchet and to handle his boat with greater dexterity. We cross the wooden dam that regulates the level of the lake and the current over a 7-meter drop to the ocean, followed by a few small rapids.

An unusual and wild universe

An unusual and wild universe

An unusual and wild universe

A wooden bridge

The boatmen

Lush vegetation

We then dive into the heart of lush vegetation. Swamps, mangroves, peat bogs, forest on each side, tree ferns and wild flowers draw a landscape halfway between the Amazonian canopy and the end of the world.

In silence, Jeremy invites us to observe an exceptional biotope : more than 200 species of birds, otters, mink, gray herons, pond turtles and a multitude of fish. The vegetation is dense and we cross real shaded galleries made up of alders, willows, pedunculate oaks, colored with irises, hibiscus, hydrangeas… Jérémy makes us aware of the fragility of this ecosystem. This green curtain plays an essential role in combating erosion and maintaining the banks of the Huchet current.

An authentic, friendly and intimate stroll

Walk on the Huchet stream

An authentic and intimate stroll

Try your hand at paddling, it's not easy!

A friendly stroll in a small group

A friendly stroll in a small group

For nearly an hour, we peacefully descend the Huchet current which winds sinuously through the dunes and the forest. We take full advantage of the small size of the boat and Jérémy's experience to sneak between small wild islets and explore every nook and cranny of this arm of the river. The unique know-how of the 40 boatmen of the Huchet stream has been passed down from generation to generation since the beginning of the 20th century. The historic tradition of inland waterway transport has continued since 1920 in this timeless place which attracted its first visitors between 1905 and 1908. This is notably thanks to the journalist Maurice Martin and his "expeditions" with epicureans, artists and botanists of the era which were at the origin of the inland waterway on Lake Léon.

Pole climb

Pole climb

Descent from the boat to pass the dam

Descent from the boat to pass the dam

To go upstream, Jérémy swaps his paddle for a 5-meter-long wooden pole with which he pushes his boat. A job that requires excellent physical condition and a hell of a dose of elbow grease! Jérémy is passionate about nature and his enthusiasm for his profession is evident. It is an exotic and exotic journey that he offers us, rocked by the lapping of the water. Magical moments to experience with friends, as a couple or as a family !

Different formulas 2h, 3h or 4h tours are available from 1 April to 31 October. Plan to book in advance in July and August !

Share the boatmen's experience

Share the boatmen's experience


  • Note : If boat trips are only done in summer, you can however visit the Courant d'Huchet reserve on foot all year round, through its hiking trails. Click for more information.

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Article written by Lesley Williamson for the Guide des Landes


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