• Caitlin McAninch

Mistico Hanging Bridges

Updated: Feb 16, 2019

I was beyond excited when I found out that there were a number of places that had bridges hung throughout the rain forest in Costa Rica. From what I understood, they were just bridges high up in the canopy where we could examine the wildlife and enjoy nature. And yes. That is exactly what it was.

We visited Mistico Hanging Bridges, which is about 20 minutes outside of La Fortuna. It’s in a great spot because you get to pass by Arenal Lake, and you also get an amazing view of Arenal Volcano from the main office and parts of the park.

We were extremely lucky because the day we went the forest was active with animals! Read on to learn more about what we experienced at the Mistico Hanging Bridges Park in La Fortuna, Costa Rica.

Travel Fail

Mistico Hanging Bridges was great, but before I dive in I want to tell you a story from this day. It was a Wednesday, and on Tuesday I had prepped big – took a big backpack on our Arenal Volcano hike stuffed with sunscreen, raincoats, ponchos, bug spray, everything I ever thought we would need. I even packed a towel… Who knows why.

Tuesday was perfect, overcast, so I didn’t need sunscreen; didn’t rain, so we never needed raincoats; never saw a bug, so who needs bug spray. So what did I do on Wednesday? I only took my camera bag. With a camera, and my zoom lens.

What happened Wednesday 20 minutes into our tour? IT RAINED. It rained hard. Dylan and I were SOAKED to the bone. Lucky a nice man from California let me put my camera in his bag.

But it’s the rain forest, so it stopped after about 30ish minutes. But you know what happened? The bugs came out. And we didn’t have bug spray. This was seriously the only day on the whole vacation we got bit.

Anyways… moral of the story… Always pack what the excursion/tour recommends. Or you might be S.O.L. Here’s a shot of us all wet and a picture of the forest during the rain, you can sort of see it!

What are the Mistico Hanging Bridges

The Mistico Hanging Bridges Park consists of 450 hectares of land owned by one family. Don’t worry; you’re not hiking through all of that during your tour!

Back in 2000, the Castillo Rodriguez family that owned the land had a vision. They knew that the land they owned was beautiful, rich and diverse. So, they decided to conserve part of a wooded mountain area on their land that was home to a wide variety of animals, and that had a richly biodiverse ecosystem.

They began construction on 253 hectares of the reserve, building pathways and bridges throughout the forest. In 2002, the park opened to its first visitors. And today, the park can see up to 400 visitors from around the world. Insane, right? Here’s a map of the park as it is today:

And the best part? Which I find adorable. The family still works here. They have third generation family members operating the park! Talk about a good family business!

The Bridges at Mistico Hanging Bridges

Total, there are six main hanging bridges in the park. By this I mean these bridges hang 300 feet above the forest floor. And no, they aren’t that sturdy.

The bridges are made of aluminum, and can hold a lot of people at once. We were extremely lucky because we visited Costa Rica during the off-season, so the park was not busy at all during our tour. But we were told on a busy day, you could wait up to 15-20 minutes to cross one bridge. We never waited, unless we were distracted by an animal (read on).

The bridges were built with the idea that one could go and enjoy the forest, and not worry about a collapsing bridge. They’re strong and sturdy, even if they are a bit wobbly.

We did not stand on the bridges and examine the wildlife, but we were able to enoy the INCREDIBLE views. Being that high gave us the ability to view the landscape, see the volcano in the distance, and just watch over the forest, which is just gorgeous.

Wildlife at Mistico Hanging Bridges

We were instantly lucky once we got to the park. Within minutes of starting down the path we saw a family of Howler Monkeys. But we saw so many different species that day.

We had an excellent tour guide that knew so much about the animals we saw, and of course I was taking some notes… So here are three of the animals we saw, along with some fun facts!

Leaf Cutter Ants

  • All the ants carrying leaves at females

  • They follow each other from pheromones

  • Each worker carries 10x her body weight

  • They don’t eat leaves, they take the leaves to their anthill, use their saliva to cover them, and let algae and mushrooms grow, and that’s what they eat!

  • The ant that cuts the leaf carries the leaf.

Eyelash Pit Viper

  • Eyelashes to feel the air

  • All snakes with triangle head are venomous

  • If we get bit we must go to hospital

  • They have the “Boca Ara”, or the kiss of death

  • Strikes quickly

  • They are born yellow, green, or brown

  • This one is in strike position, easy to get a hummingbird or lizard

  • The adults don’t inject all venom they have, just a little bit which will kill and paralyze anything the bite.

Spider Monkey

(Can you spot him in the middle?)

  • Largest species in Costa Rica

  • Four fingers, no thumb!

  • Fast

  • Only mate every 3-4 years and only have 1 baby at a time

  • No alpha male, an alpha female

  • Endangered

  • Mostly feed on fruit

  • Travel around the forest and look for food

  • Once they’re full, they go to their main home to relax

Other Animals at Mistico Hanging Bridges

We saw a number of other animals at the park; I just didn’t get a lot of info on them. We saw:

  • Bats in a hollow log

  • Howler monkeys

  • TONS of lizards

  • A poisonous bug

  • A toucan

  • A tarantula (ew!)

  • Hornets coming out of a tree!

Plants at Mistico Hanging Bridges

Let’s be real. I don’t know what any of the following pictures are actually of. I just know I saw them, liked them, and took their picture. The plant life in Costa Rica is unreal. And seriously. Look at all the green!

These are related to the pineapple, but live in trees!

I loved the little mushrooms we saw throughout the forest!

Look at the waterfall we spotted!

This vine was beyond one of the coolest things I've seen in nature.

Doing the hanging bridges tour was really, really cool. I loved all the animals we got to see, and even better, I just loved being where we were. I still cannot get over how gorgeous it is!

Don’t miss out on more of the things we did on our adventure honeymoon in Costa Rica! See all the blogs, here:

Costa Rica

Distance: 3,844 miles

Driving Time: 76 hours

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