Autumn in the northern hemisphere still brings a splash of colour to this hardwood forest of bald cypress in Louisiana. But make no mistake, a stroll through these wetlands is not a cosy journey. The swamp forest floor is often covered by the waters of Atchafalaya River delta as it drains into the Gulf of Mexico, so the magnificent colours here are best viewed from the seat of a canoe or a pirogue, as the local Cajuns use. The water-resistant bald cypress thriving in the Atchafalaya Basin constitutes the largest tract of contiguous cypress forest in the United States. The ecosystem here is so unlike any other in the US, the Atchafalaya National Heritage Area organisation calls it ‘America’s foreign country’.