Arenal Hanging Bridges
The Arenal Hanging Bridges (Mistico Park) are a series of suspension bridges in the Volcan Arenal National Park area, offering views of Lake Arenal and Volcan Arenal. The bridges form part of a 2-mile (3 kilometre) self-guided interpretive trail through a private rainforest reserve. Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park is located on the Arenal fault in a tropical transition wet forest. It is located at 600 m. above sea level, and it concentrates 250 ha of mature forest, with an annual rainfall of 3.500-6.000 m.m. and a relative humidity of 88-92%. The trail is 3 km and allows tourists to walk on 15 bridges; 6 of which are hanging. This is a highly diverse forest since it lies between the boundary of highland and lowland forest, integrating species from both areas.
Through years of evolution, flora of the lowland rainforest, typical from Sarapiquí and Tortuguero, had an altitudinal migration to 500-600 m high, and flora of the highlands did not descent to less than 300 m.
At Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park, the junction between the two types of ecosystems forming a transitional vegetation strip with high biodiversity occurred. In this forest we can observe both highland bird species, like bellbirds and species of trees like yema huevo, cirri and pilón. We can also
see lowland species like toucans and Crested guans, and trees like caobilla, fruta dorada and maquenque.
The treetop is a diverse and almost unknown environment to science; it is a space that offers a completely different perspective than the one seen from the ground, with various species of epiphytic plants, birds and butterflies.
One of the advantages of walking on Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park compared to walking on the ground is that it allows to observe more species, more closely. It also allows appreciating the shape of trees, flowers and vegetable structures that emerge above the canopy.
Along the tour you can see a variety of flora and fauna in the understory, the overstory and understory, making Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park a very rich place where you can see and enjoy the biodiversity of the region. This forest has been being affected by acid rain and ash fall from Arenal Volcano for thousands of years. The flora has certain modifications, there are lithophytes (plants that grow in rocky soils) and species associated to andisols acidic soils of volcanic origin.
Over 700 species of flora can be found in the area. Fauna has a high biodiversity and it is part of a biological corridor that connects the Guanacaste Volcanic Range with Tilarán Volcanic Range. Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park is the only biological corridor that allows the flow of large mammals or megafauna like the puma, jaguar and tapir around both ranges.
Místico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park is ideal for hiking and wildlife observation. You can find more than 700 species, including trees, lianas, epiphytes and herbs. Also, there are more than 300 species of birds, including highland and lowland species, as well as migratory species. The excellent visibility of the bridges allows enjoying the mass migration of raptors between November and February each year. You can also go on night walks for observation of herpetofauna like frogs, snakes and lizards, as well as mammals, martillas, raccoons, ocelots and caucels.
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