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Hanging bridge tours in Costa Rica are among the top-rated experiences in the small Central American country. There are several places in Costa Rica where you can walk through the canopy of the rain forest and even directly into the clouds at times on a suspension bridge that extends across the jungle. The Arenal Rain Forest is one of the best places in Costa Rica to do just that. An Arenal hanging bridges tour is an incredible experience where you will feel completely immersed in nature.
A unique adventure, walking on the hanging bridges in Costa Rica lets you explore the tropical landscape by foot, while taking you directly into the canopy of the rain forest. With more than 60 percent of the wildlife in Costa Rica living in the upper canopy of the trees, a hanging bridge hike gives you a fascinating perspective of the rain forest that you simply cannot get from the ground. That is why it is a must-do on any traveler’s Costa Rica itinerary!
Arenal hanging bridges tour: Facts and Information
Situated outside the town of La Fortuna, near the Arenal Volcano National Park, this guided hiking tour takes you through the Costa Rican rain forest and across five bridges. At least a couple of the bridges are long, suspension bridges high in the tree tops of the rain forest’s canopy.
- At a glance: Arenal Hanging Bridge Tour at Sky Adventures at Arenal Park
- Original hanging bridge tour in Costa Rica
- Distance: 2.5 – 3 Miles (4 km)
- Number of Bridges: 5
- Longest Bridge: 774 feet (236 meters)
- Highest Bridge: 230 feet (70 meters)
The Arenal hanging bridges hike at Sky Adventures is approximately two and half to three miles long. This world famous Sky Walk was the first hanging bridge tour in Costa Rica. While the hike isn’t extremely strenuous, it does require a reasonable level of fitness. The hike will take you up and down stairs on a defined but rocky and uneven path through the jungle. While the tour is best known for the widely photographed hanging bridges, only a small portion of that 3-mile long trek actually takes place on one of the suspension bridges.
Throughout the hike, you will cross a total of five bridges. The path also takes you by several lovely waterfalls where you can stop for photos or simply to enjoy the sights and sounds of nature. The knowledgeable, multi-lingual guides will stop along the route to share intriguing facts or to point out distinctive flora and fauna. You may even cross paths with some of the native animals in Costa Rica, like Toucans, snakes, and sloths.
If visiting Costa Rica with kids, a hanging bridge tour can be a highly educational experience where they can learn about the rain forest, its plants, animals and the need for conservation.
About the hanging bridges along the Sky Walk at Arenal Park
Arenal Park includes five bridges, three of which are longer suspension bridges that extend into the rain forest canopy high up in the air. The highest bridge is approximately 230 feet above the ground. On a cloudy day, it will feel like you are walking straight into the clouds, as you cross the hanging bridge. At times, you may not even be able to see the other side of the bridge through the dense cloud deck!
The longest bridge on the tour is 774 feet long. That’s longer than the length of two football fields! Although these steel suspension bridges are strong and sturdy, the bridges and trails are built and maintained to have a low-impact on the natural ecosystem.
The other two bridges on the tour are shorter, traditional bridges, but take you right next to beautiful waterfalls.
The Arenal Park hanging bridges hike is a guided group tour. It can take several hours if you have a larger group. They typically say to give yourself 3 hours to walk the 2-3 mile path. The guide goes at the group’s pace and will stop several times along the way to explain and point out different areas of the rain forest, show the group unique vegetation, and point out wildlife.
There are also bathrooms halfway through the hike and a water fountain where you can get a quick drink if you did not bring a water bottle.
The hanging bridges park can also be combined with an aerial tram and ziplining tour.
There are no age limitations for the Arenal hanging bridge tour that we took. In fact, we were able to do this tour with a 6-month-old infant. We wore our baby in a carrier, which we would strongly recommend if doing any hanging bridges tour with a baby or toddler.
If you are wondering if the Costa Rica hanging bridges are kid-friendly, the answer is ‘it depends’. This excursion would be a challenge with small children if you are not in decent shape. The path is not stroller-friendly, so wearing your child in a carrier is really would be the only way to do this tour with an infant or toddler. With that said, we had no problem doing a hanging bridge tour in Costa Rica with a baby. So, if you are an adventurous parent and don’t mind wearing young children in a baby or child carrier, GO FOR IT!
Also read: the best baby carriers for travel
Children who are too old or too big for a carrier could certainly do this tour along with their parents. However, they may need extra encouragement along the hike, which is moderately strenuous. You may also need to hold their hand along parts of the path where it is extremely uneven so they do not fall and injure themselves.
Physical fitness requirements
The Arenal hanging bridges tour is not wheelchair accessible. If you have a physical handicap, you may not be able to do this tour. The group will stop from time-to-time as the guide highlights different parts of the route, so even if you aren’t in great shape you will have a chance to catch your breath. However, if you are in poor cardiovascular heath and tire easily, we would not recommend this tour. You should be in good enough physical condition that you can walk 3 miles, handle various change in elevation, and be able to go up and down stairs.
What to wear and bring on the Arenal hanging bridges tour
Having experienced a hanging bridge tour in Costa Rica firsthand, here are a few recommendations if you are going to do the Arenal hanging bridges tour or any other canopy tour.
- Wear hiking shoes, long pants, and a raincoat
- Wear dry-fit or moisture wicking shirts and waterproof pants
- Bring an umbrella (it’s called a rain forest for a reason)
- Mosquito repellent is a must. We make our own chemical-free repellent that works wonders!
- Bring a water bottle and a light snack, especially if traveling with children. I personally love this reusable water bottle because it keeps your drink cold for 24 hours.
- If you are hiking with a baby or toddler in tow, bring a bottle or sippy cup for them, as well.
- A child carrier or baby carrier is also recommended if doing this tour with babies or young children.
With the proper gear and accurate expectations, the Arenal hanging bridges tour is a great family experience. The hike is beautiful and you get to see so much of the rain forest and natural vegetation this way. It truly is the best way to learn about the Costa Rican forests and biospheres.
Other Arenal Hanging Bridges Tours
There are several other places where you can see hanging bridges in the Arenal area of Costa Rica. Here is another popular option for canopy tours.
Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges
- At a glance: Mistico Park Hanging Bridges Tour Arenal
- Distance: 2 miles (3. 2km)
- Number of bridges: 16
- Longest Bridge: 368 feet (97 meters)
- Highest Bridge: 148 feet (45 meters
The Mistico Hanging Bridges Tour is perhaps the most popular suspension bridge tour in the Arenal area, if not in all of Costa Rica. Mistico Park offers similar views and trails to Sky Adventure but includes 16 bridges instead of five! They also offer a fully accessible trail that includes 6 bridges, is stair-free, and made from non-slip concrete.
You can also find hanging bridge tours in the Monteverde Cloud Forest and throughout other parts of Costa Rica. The activity is becoming increasingly popular among travelers. Many of the tours have options which include transportation, however, we recommend renting a car and driving in Costa Rica for a better overall experience in this beautiful and lush country.
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