You hear the words “Rainforest Hanging Bridges”. They sound like an exotic adventure, it also may sound thrilling, exciting, and maybe dangerous. The reality is astonishingly different!
In some places in Costa Rica, you find the rainforest hanging bridges as an option to experience.
And well! When you think about them what comes to mind, maybe are those Indiana Jones-like bridges made in rotten wood boards and hanging from death threatening cliffs. The reality is very different and compelling.
To get to Mystico Adventure Park, you must take the road that goes to the Arenal Lake, pass the hotels, the restaurants, and the National Park detour. As you move the Arenal Lake edge, you will find a detour to the right that will take you on a brick road up and down through pastures to Mistico Hanging Bridges.
The parking lot is fairly big and safe (In the case you are driving), and bathrooms are right at the entrance.
Together with the reception and an outlook with benches and tables that, on a clear day has a magnificent view of the Arenal Volcano.
You make a short line, get the tickets and a map and off you go!
The staff is very efficient and really nice!
As you get in, the trail takes you through a small garden, and well! You may actually wonder “Is this the rainforest?” But, hold on, the best is yet to come!
The rainforest starts to show itself little by little, unveiling its magical beauty as you walk deeper into the park.
The first bridge comes along, sturdy, solid, metallic, and short.
In the past, the trail used to begin the other way around.
However this gives you a chance to get acquainted with the environment and at the end, the way is easier and by far, less tiring.
Open your senses
However, the rainforest is blooming. Hundreds of trees, shrubs and veins are telling you in 3D what a rainforest is.
The indistinct sounds of dozens of birds, the sensation of being observed by small scurrying eyes, the thick serenity in all trees.
This forest is worth the trip! It is so magical!
Ears attentive, eyes open, alert nostrils. Life is around you and to thoroughly enjoy it, the best is to keep your senses on alert.
While on the bridges: stop.
Maybe fifteen minutes of a slow, attentive pace you find the first real one. A long metallic moving bridge that reminds you why are you here.
A few weeks ago, there was an article here that said that to enjoy the forest you had to be slow and silent.
Well! To really enjoy the hanging bridges, you have to stop. Be still and take your time.
Breathe in all the beauty and diversity of the jungle around. The infinite shades of green, the different shapes and forms that trees take.
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The landscape from the bridges is absolutely astonishing. As you go across, the rainforest shows itself in all its magnificence.
You can see the tops of the trees, the fantastic shapes of the plants from above, you have the bird’s eye point of view.
The bridge rocks a bit as people walks on it. But the bridge is so sturdy, and the rail is high enough, hence: You feel completely safe.
As you walk through the rainforest hanging bridges, you hear the fascinating sound of the howler monkeys in the distance. Or the disconcerting sound of white faced monkeys.
Every now and then you will get lucky and see them playing underneath your feet, and perfect pictures will come out.
Or you may see a small eye-lashed viper, or tent making bats (For this, guides are indispensable!)
But then again, obviously we are talking about nature here, and animals are -and should be- unpredictable.
It is also a paradise for birdwatchers. You can be for hours, literally speaking (And having a private guide with you, or walking on your own) looking at the infinite diversity of birds in this mighty forest.
The other people on the trail
You can imagine this is highly attractive, and dozens of groups enter to witness this fantastic project every day.
My advice is to let them pass. There is no rush. Take your time and let them walk at their own pace.
Sometimes, especially when single people are walking through this trail that they walk fast, and sometimes may be loud. Move aside and let them pass.
- Read and enjoy also: 7 things to know about the Arenal Volcano Area
Enjoy your walk, take the rainforest in and don’t let yourself be pushed by other people’s rush.
Sometimes it may happen that you are, in a group and with your own guide, and there are plans afterward, and the guide may be walking a bit fast. Well! If it is so, try to take the amazement as much as you can. Listen to what your guide is saying. Pay attention.
There are so many secrets that guides know that by just stopping when they are giving an explanation you may learn and enjoy as much.
What if it rains?
The canopy of the forest is made to let only a 20% of the water to get to the ground (That’s why the leaves underneath are so big. To take in as much as possible). Be happy, put on your rain poncho and enjoy the astounding sounds of the rain in the green leaking roof over your head.
You will find that the rain is quite warm and actually quite nice. You only turn your face up and enjoy what gives life to this massive life system around you.
The Rainforest Hanging Bridges of Arenal at Mystico is an adventure for all ages. Children will enjoy it as much as the adults. The trails are completely paved. However our advice is to use hiking boots with a good tracking system, just in case, it gets slippery.
It is fantastic for any nature lover, wildlife seeker or bird watcher.
Ask our travel consultants and enjoy this fantastic experience while you are in Costa Rica
Written by Olga Sáenz-Carbonell for Camino Travel