Because Miami is nice, but the EVERGLADES!!!! The Tram is the lazy way of traversing the 25 mile biking and walking path through the marshy freshwater slough. Apparently it’s called the shark valley because its where the Shark River begins it’s flow to the ocean… not because there are any sharks in the valley. However, when the river approaches the Bay of Ponce de Leon Bay and becomes brackish (mixture of fresh water and salt), that is where you will find the sharks.
The drive from Miami to the tram ride is about an hour, in light traffic. A housemate of mine at the Airbnb warned me that he had gone there previously, during the Xmas vacation period (which begins this weekend) and he and his parents were stuck in traffic for much longer than that, which I can believe as the road, which is one of the main ones through the Everglades is in spite of that, only one lane in each direction.
The cost to enter the park is $25.00 per car, $20.00 per motorcycle, or $8.00 per hiker/biker — and that gives you access to any of the Everglades entrances for a full week… or like me you just show your trusty $80 one year pass.
The Tram however while sponsored by the parks, is a separate thing, and costs $24 for adults, $12.75 for kids (3-12), and $19 for seniors ($62+ with ID). You buy the ticket at the park office which is split into two sides, the private store and the park office, and you can’t pay for an item you picked up on one side on the other sides cash register. In the building you’ll find some food (snacks and cold sandwiches, nothing fancy) and there’s a drink machine that accepts credit cards as well as cash, and a bathroom… but no WiFi (although they said they were working on getting that brought in).
I sat right behind the woman narrating the tour, which I discovered was a strategic error; I should have sat behind the driver, who seems to be the one who determines when the tram slows down (go figure) …
While clearly, there are equal numbers of animals on both sides, the tram stops — that allow you to take the best pictures — are based on what the driver sees, not the narrator… (who was facing us the whole time)… and as such, I was forced to take most of my pictures over the laps of the other people in my row.
In spite of that, every once in a while I got lucky….. but the tram never stopped for what was on my side
The trail takes visitors out to a viewing tower, which is at about the 1/2 way mark, where we’re given about 20 minutes to do some exploring (and there are bathrooms there).
and then we head back to the starting point.
One of the plants that the narrator pointed out to us was this tiny nondescript yellow flower on a bed of muddy green leaves that is very common in the waters. Apparently it EATS mosquitoes, as in actually eats them, and is part of what helps to control their population throughout the glades.
When we finally got back to the starting point I was disconcertingly exhausted — I think it was all the sun and wind — so much so that I was staggering around a bit when I first stepped off the tram. Now as it turned out, this can be a bit dangerous because the alligators seem to LOVE hanging out there… it’s like they’re camera fiends. There are a lot of signs about not feeding them, and sharp eyed park staff to levy massive fines on you if you do, so it’s not that they’re expecting to be fed.
There were like 3 of them just laying out and not moving… a lot of people got way closer than I was willing to … … the lady who worked there said the only time in the whole history of the park that anyone got bit was a kid riding on a bicycle lost control, went right into the trench and landed right on top of one.
This is not to say they’re safe, just if you leave them alone they’ll leave you alone… She said it was kind of amazing considering the really stupid shit she’s seen people do… for example, one lady didn’t believe they were real and sat her 4 year old on top of one for a photo (according to the staffer)
By the way, these photos have convinced me that tucking my shirt in just makes me look fatter… so I’ll stop… That, and I’m not a fan of how my hair is looking, the last dye job did not make me happy. When I get to Orlando I’ll probably change it again.