The Arenal Hanging Bridges in Costa Rica (known in Spanish as “Puentes Colgantes”) are one of the most environmentally friendly ecotourism projects. The hanging bridges also happen to be one of our favorite activities for families. The idea behind a ‘hanging bridge’ is to allow visitors to hike through rich primary rainforest floor as well to reach the height of the rain forest canopies without any special equipment or gear. From the elevated view a whole new dimension of the rainforest’s lush biodiversity becomes apparent in the canopy. The entire project was designed to blend in with the rainforest so the natural environment is virtually intact and undisturbed.

The hanging bridges trail is approximately two miles long and traverses across 15 different bridges. The trail has been professionally laid out to only reach a maximum of 7 degree of grade and is easily walked by younger children. The bridges cross multiple gullies, small canyons and two rivers allowing for views to out the Arenal Volcano, around to the surrounding rainforest canopy and down to the forest floor with a bird’s eye perspective.

The hanging bridges are on a protected reserve of 250 hectares (800 acres). This region is located within a corridor followed by birds migrating between North and South America and visitors can spot up to 50 or 60 species, especially in the morning. Frogs, insects and small mammals can also be observed from the trails winding through the rainforest. It’s a real treat to see (or be seen) by a Howler monkey or see the erratic brilliant blue path left behind from a Blue Morpho Butterfly.

The bridges add the real adventure to the walk through the Costa Rican rainforest. Nine of these bridges are fixed while six of them are true hanging suspension bridges. The hanging bridges range from 48 to 98 meters long (157 to 321 feet long). Although the bridges look intimidating to anyone with a fear of heights, and sway a bit as you walk across them, the bridges are incredibly safe. The cables are made of galvanized steel and the actual bridges are also made of galvanized steel and high-strength aluminum. The sides of the bridges are secured with a chest high fence to allow great viewing opportunities but will keep you within their bounds.

Because you can walk the trail at your own pace this adventure activity is one we highly recommend for families with younger children, especially if they have an appetite to learn and explore.