“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.
We were walking the nature trail at Arenal Hanging Bridges, one of the best hanging bridges in Costa Rica.
Arenal hanging bridges
The two-mile trail in the Mistico Arenal Hanging Bridges Park – a 600-acre rainforest nature reserve – crosses nine fixed bridges and six suspension bridges.
The park is found at the base of the majestic Arenal Volcano.
And the snake Kimberly pointed out had definitely caught our attention!
“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.
Mistico Park rainforest
Touring Mistico Park 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
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.
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.
Costa Rica ecotourism experiences are the reason many visitors go to the country; it boasts a remarkable variety of bird and wildlife species. We saw some of the most interesting ones on our tour of the Arenal Hanging Bridges.
If you’re looking at things to do in Arenal, these Costa Rica hanging bridges won’t disappoint.
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Photos 2, 3, 4, 5 and 7 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase
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.