TOUR: Hanging Bridges of Arenal

Looking for information about Costa Rica on the www would lead one to believe that toucans are simply everywhere in Costa Rica. This is not true. By the ninth day of our trip, I still had not spotted a single live toucan.

I had high hopes during our zipline tour, but no such luck. However, at the very end of our ziplining, one of folks in our group mentioned she had seen TONS of toucans at the Hanging Bridges.

Frankly, I had read in passing about the Hanging Bridges and they seemed like a boring and benign sort of activity, so we hadn't even considered visiting there while we were in the La Fortuna area. But now.... now that I knew there a definite possiblity of spotting a toucan, we had to go.

We drove there in the morning, arriving around 8:30 or so and paid $22USD/each to head on in. I'm not sure entirely what I was expecting - other than toucans - but this was a TERRIFIC day of light hiking and critter spotting. The trail is well-maintained and made up of these open weave brick things, nice for walking. (*Note: do not wear high heels for this particular activity.... of course, you probably wouldn't want to wear heels for most activities in Costa Rica.)

There were around eight or ten actual hanging bridges and the rest was the trail.
The bridges are in good condition and not too wiggly or bouncy when you're crossing. Overall, this was one of the least physically demanding things we had done - well, save for lounging on the beach or drinking in a bar. We chose to just go on our own without a guide and wound up spending around four or so hours there. The ticket person told us it would take around an hour and a half or two hours, but we were welcome to take as long as we wanted. I believe the trail is 3km or about 2 miles.

And the things we spotted! Tiny pit viper (they seem to like to curl up on leaves), Crested Owl sleeping in a tree, lots and lots and lots of howler monkeys, SKINKS, a mot-mot, and YES, a couple of toucans. I could hear them laughing in the trees and we finally got up close to spot them. Chestnut manibled toucans. It was lovely moment.

Due to our kinda crappy quicksnap camera, I didn't get a good pic of the toucan, but we did get lots of cool pics of the mot-mot. You can see him on the left. There's a HUGE cicada in his beak. Notice his "racket" feathers on his tail. Legend has it that a big storm was coming and all the animals of the forest were supposed to help prepare. The motmot was lazy and decided to hide in a hole in the ground, but his tail was left sticking out. As they worked, the animals walked on his tail and broke off all the extra bits of feather except at the end and so now the motomot has to live in the ground instead of having a nest in the trees and he is missing part of his tail. Depending on where you read this from, this story is sometimes attributed to the Mayans and other times to the BriBri, an indigenious population on the Caribbean coast of Costa Rica. Regardless, it's a REALLY cool bird to see.

Overall, the Hanging Bridges were completely interesting and lovely. Take your binoculars and a camera. There's also a waterfall you can walk down to see. However, either pack a lunch to enjoy or plan on eating elsewhere. The restaurant onsite is pricey and without anything interesting on the menu. In fact, you could plan to go to La Fortuna proper after the Hanging Bridges and go eat at Lava Lounge... I've got a review here on the blog of our experience eating there. DELISH!

Click here to visit the website for the Hanging Bridges.