Oh my! See snakes, sloths and spiders at Arenal Hanging Bridges

In ADVENTURE, CENTRAL AMERICA by Janice and George8 Comments

arenal hanging bridges - sloth

Come see this snake!” summoned our guide, Kimberly, in great excitement. “It’s one of the most poisonous in Costa Rica.”

We warily nudged closer to her and stared at the eyelash pit viper.

arenal hanging bridges - viper

It’s named for the little horns or eyelashes above each eye,” Kimberly explained. “It’s probably waiting for a rodent or bird to wander by to kill for food.”

Greenish in color with yellow flecks, the snake looked rather harmless, curled up on twigs and dried leaves on the side of the trail. But we knew otherwise.

If bitten by the eyelash pit viper, your foot or leg might have to be amputated.

You can even die.

15 bridges at Arenal Hanging Bridges

We were walking the nature trail in Costa Rica’s Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park. The two-mile trail in Mistico’s 600-acre rainforest nature reserve crosses nine fixed bridges and six suspension bridges.

arenal hanging bridges

Touring the Arenal Hanging Bridges is not so much about the excitement of wobbling across swaying metal suspension bridges – some as high as 150 feet above the forest floor. It’s more about experiencing the rainforest and spotting the wildlife within it.

And we were getting our money’s worth of that.

Sloths, snakes and spiders on our nature tour

Kimberly carried a large powerful telescope, which she set up on a tripod at various points along the way to show us close up the wildlife, birds and insects she spotted.

arenal hanging bridges

She also took photos on our little Canon G11 camera using the telescope – getting photos the camera never could without this aid.

First creature we saw? A three-toed sloth curled high up in the branches of a tree. We were surprised to see that it was greenish. That’s because sloths are covered in algae, which help them blend in with the green forest canopy.

As we strolled along the trail, we noticed many holes, about two inches in diameter, in the side of the red muddy banks. “What do you think lives in there?” asked Kimberly as she shone her flashlight inside one of the holes. The answer was obvious when a tarantula began to poke its furry legs outside.

The gossamer web of a large Golden Orb spider also caught our eye – especially when Kimberly cautioned us to be careful of it as we walked underneath. And, yes, we also came across another snake, this one a brown-and-black jumping pit viper (poisonous too).

Some of Costa Rica’s beautiful birds were harder to spot. But we did make out a broad-billed motmot trilling in the trees.

arenal hanging bridges

Costa Rica boasts a remarkable variety of bird and wildlife species.

It’s the reason many visitors go to the country – we saw some of the most interesting ones on this tour of the Arenal Hanging Bridges.

A guided tour of the Arenal Hanging Bridges

  • Tour company:  We toured the Arenal Hanging Bridges with Jacamar Naturalist Tours. The tour was booked through our resort, Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa.
  • Do you need a guided tour?  The trail through the Arenal Hanging Bridges reserve is set up as a self-guided one, so you can visit on your own (if you’ve rented a car). But if we hadn’t visited with a guide, we would never have spotted all the various critters and creatures Kimberly pointed out. Other tourists without guides walked past us without noticing much of the wildlife, except when Kimberly kindly alerted them, saying “Look at this snake here!” or “Did you see the spider above you?”
  • Cost:  The half-day Arenal Hanging Bridges tour with Jacamar Naturalist Tours costs $69 USD p.p. and includes roundtrip transportation from your nearby resort.
  • Time:  The actual amount of time spent at the Arenal Hanging Bridges is about 3 hours. Pick-up time for the tour is about 7:30 am; expect to be back at your resort by 12:45 pm.

Here’s a good pin for Pinterest :-). Just click on the image below…

arenal hanging bridges

Thanks go to Jacamar Naturalist Tours and Tabacon Thermal Resort & Spa for setting up this tour of the Arenal Hanging Bridges for us! Our reporting as travel writers (who follow professional codes of ethics) is all our own, however.

Janice and George Signature


    1. Author

      The tarantulas were a little creepy. We only learned toward the end of our walk that there were a ton of them in those holes all along the path.

  1. We did a similar jungle walk on a suspension walkway high up in Borneo and I too recall feeling nervous but sounds like you saw some amazing wildlife! I would have been freaking out most un-elegantly if I’d have seen that snake for sure!!

    1. Author

      We went to Costa Rica to see the wildlife — spotting those two venomous vipers was one of the highlights on that Arenal Hanging Bridges tour! Though they looked so much less dangerous than we’d imagined…

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