Little was known about life up in the canopy of tropical forests until biologists started using ropes and pulleys to climb their way up. Treetops in the tropics reach so high that it was nearly impossible to explore.
Scientists now know that about 90% of all of the organisms in a rainforest are found in the tree canopy. In the tropics, trees and plants stretch upwards as high as they can to get some sun, which barely reaches the forest floor. At the top, the brilliant sunlight hits everything, resulting in the plentiful growth of leaves, fruits and seeds. It only follows that if there is good food at the top, so too will there be an abundance of animals.
Nowadays, biologists study the tropical forest canopy using towers, suspension (hanging) bridges, and construction cranes. In Costa Rica, you can easily explore the rainforest and cloud forest from this elevated perspective to see interesting plants and wildlife thanks to aerial walking trails on hanging bridges tours. Though the name “hanging” implies something that might swing through space, Costa Rica’s hanging bridges tours use safe metal structures.
Costa Rica offers many hanging bridges tours, mostly around Arenal Volcano and in the Monteverde cloud forest. Valle Dorado Tours offers you many options for hanging bridges tours. Here is a guide to the best Costa Rica hanging bridges tours.
Located in Costa Rica’s Central Highlands, the misty mountaintop of Monteverde is a prime tourism destination. Monteverde’s rare ecosystem is internationally famous as one of the most extensive cloud forests in Central America. At 1,800 m (5,900 ft.) elevation, this natural sanctuary is like a lofty green cathedral – towering trees drip with dew-soaked hanging moss and vines, splashed with colorful delicate orchids, bromeliads and ferns in all shapes and sizes. More than 2,500 different types of plants and animals, including 400 species of birds, call Monteverde’s cloud forest home.
Sky Walk is Costa Rica’s first hanging bridges tour. Since 1997, Sky Walk has led tourists on walking trails and suspension bridges through the Monteverde cloud forest near the Santa Elena Reserve. There are six bridges in total, the longest of which spans 984 feet, and some reach soaring heights above canyons. Trails cover slightly over 1.5 miles (2.5 km), making this tour accessible for anyone in moderate shape. The trails are not strenuous or muddy, and are well-maintained and generally very flat. Local guides lead the tours and help visitors learn about native plant and animal species.
Sky Walk lasts about 2-3 hours. Tours depart at 7:30 a.m., 9:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Groups can be no larger than 10 persons because there is a 12-person maximum capacity per bridge. Reservations are recommended.
A little higher up the mountain than Sky Walk, closer to the Santa Elena Reserve in Monteverde, is Selvatura’s Treetop Walkways. The nearly 2 mile (3 km) trail crosses through this high elevation cloud forest with eight bridges. Lengths range from 150 feet (50 m) to 510 feet (170 m) with heights between 36 feet (12 m) up to 180 feet (60 m). The metal bridges are quite wide at 5 feet and have a strength capacity of up to 80 persons per bridge. The treetop walkways are suitable for all ages and physical conditions. You may reserve guided or self-guided tours; the tour lasts usually about 2 hours.
Tall, impressive Arenal Volcano is one of the top places to visit in Costa Rica. Towering above the rainforest that surrounds its base and the beautiful Lake Arenal, the active volcano’s perfectly symmetrical conical shape makes it a stunning sight.
Located near Lake Arenal and Arenal Volcano, the Arenal Hanging Bridges tour is a fantastic rainforest experience. Trails built with paving blocks (to prevent slipping) ramble 2 miles (3 km) through dense rainforest around gigantic trees and then out across gorges and over treetops on suspension and fixed bridges. The tour consists of eight fixed bridges, 26-72 feet long (8-22 meters), and six hanging bridges between 157-321 feet long (48-98 meters). The spectacular views of Arenal Volcano from the hanging bridges are unforgettable. Tours may be guided by a naturalist or self-guided. Walk quietly and you will be able to see a wealth of wildlife, from tropical and migratory birds to monkeys and small mammals.
Similar to Sky Walk in Monteverde, the Sky Walk tour at Arenal Volcano offers you breathtaking views of the forest canopy up close, as well as the volcano and Lake Arenal. The fun half-day adventure takes you along trails, hanging bridges and viewing platforms; the tour is accessible to all ages and physical conditions. Naturalist guides will inform you about life in the area. The Sky Walk tour lasts about 2.5 hours. Tours depart at 7:00 a.m., 8:00 a.m., 9:00 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2:00 p.m. Groups can be no larger than 10 persons because there is a 12-person maximum capacity per bridge. Reservations are recommended.
Valle Dorado Tours offers the best Costa Rica one-day tours and custom tour packages. More than 20 years of local experience in the Costa Rica travel business ensures that Valle Dorado Tours offers you the best in Costa Rica vacations. Check out their extensive menu of one-day tours, traditional destination tour packages, thematic tour packages and customized tour packages all over Costa Rica.
By Shannon Farley