There are 3 ways to visit Shark Valley-walking, bicycling or taking a ride on a tram.
I’m a firm believer in getting the lay of the land before I head off on foot and I don’t have bicycle so the choice for me was easy. Tram Ride.
The tram ride is a 2 hour tour narrated by a naturalist or park ranger. It covers a 15 mile loop trail that is closed to private vehicles. At the half way mark is an observation tower. On a clear day you can see for miles.
At 11:00 am I took a seat on the bench near the Tram’s ticket booth. It was a beautiful, sunny day. For the next 2 hours I’d receive an education about the Shark Valley eco- system and it’s wildlife.
As other riders joined me on the benches one of the attendants came by to chat. It was his role to give us the safety briefing. He told us to stay 15 feet away from all wildlife but especially the alligators and they can be unpredictable. He then went on to tell us about another tourist a few weeks back who kept trying to poke the alligators. Seems he’d been watching too many reality shows like Gator Boys and wanted to see if he could out maneuver the gators the way they do on that show. After being warned repeatedly he was removed from the park and fined.
About then our guide arrived and we loaded onto the tram. Right away we saw wildlife. A red-shouldered hawk perched in the meadow.
A mama gator and her babies sunned by the side of the pavement.
A whole panne was filled with Wood Storks.
Seeing so many of these our naturalist explained that these birds had been endangered because of habitat loss. They are very fussy eaters and if the water in the panne is the wrong depth or temperature or any of a number of other things, they will not feed there so it was exciting to see so many in one place.
Herons were everywhere, all kinds as I had noticed by the info center.
The tram would stop whenever our guide spotted something interesting so she could talk about it and give us plenty of time for photographs.
We met lots of bicyclists. They gave us the right of way and waved as we passed. That looks like a great way to see the sights up even closer than the tram. I believe there is a bike rental kiosk located near the parking lot.
About noon we reached the observation tower. We had about 1/2 hour here so we could climb the tower and take a look around. So far our guide had been pointing out the birds and gators and talking about the diversity of the wildlife in the Everglades. Now she let us head out on our own.
We all clambered off the tram and headed up the paved path to the observation tower.