Heliconias Rainforest, Costa Rica’s Hidden Park of Suspension Bridges

Heliconias' El Trogon Suspension Bridge

photography by: Omri Westmark

With more than half of its territory covered by lush jungles, Costa Rica is one of the most forested countries in the world. While the country's ample rainforests offer many types of activities, none of which is as popular and exciting as the numerous suspension bridges amid the woodland's canopies. Similar to their jam-packed counterparts, the hanging bridges of the privately owned Heliconias rainforest in Alajuela Province are bestowed with a breathtaking scenery, albeit without the utter nuisance of mass-tourism.

The Lodge and Trail

Nestled on the foot of the 1,916-meter high Volcán Tenorio, Albergue Heliconias Lodge is a 10 room eco-hotel, boasting its own private rainforest. The secluded lodge is located about 4 kilometers away from Costa Rica’s National Route 6, and is accessed via a 10-minute drive along a pothole-ridden dirt road. Due to its relative remoteness and inaccessibility, the hotel and its surrounding jungle barely get as many visitors as a typical attraction of its kind elsewhere in Costa Rica.

 

Even if you aren’t planning to stay at the lodge, you can still visit its adjacent rainforest which entails a modest admission fee. The privately owned jungle merges with the nearby Volcán Tenorio National Park, while its 73 hectares of unspoiled paradise are traversed by a 2.5-kilometer-long wooded trail that takes about 2 hours to complete.

 

The path provides a spectacular glimpse of the country’s abundant wildlife, including several species of monkeys, butterflies, tapirs and the national symbol, the adorable sloth. Nevertheless, as the article’s title implies, Heliconias’ main highlight is by far its series of suspension bridges that stretch amid the forest’s canopies, elaborated down below.

The Heliconias eco-lodge and its parking area

photography by: Omri Westmark


Two benches overlooking the nearby verdant hills and Lake Nicaragua

photography by: Omri Westmark


Heliconias Rainforest's trailhead

photography by: Omri Westmark


An alocasia plant, also known as the Elephant Ear for its odd shape

photography by: Omri Westmark


The wooded trail amid the rainforest

photography by: Omri Westmark


A recently germinated kernel at the forest bed

photography by: Omri Westmark


A formidable tree along the trail

photography by: Omri Westmark


Alpinia purpurata, commonly known as red ginger

photography by: Omri Westmark


A dead tree trunk serves as a nutrient-rich habitat for tens of flora and fauna species

photography by: Omri Westmark


Hanging Bridges

As most chances none of you is a professional tree climber, the forest’s 4 suspension bridges are your only chance to witness the jungle’s most inaccessible part, its tree canopies. Extremely narrow and precarious, walking across Heliconias’ four Hanging Bridges is a guaranteed recipe for a jittery experience, a one that is further intensified by the bridge’s lattice deck, with the sheer height being visible between the small voids.

 

Whereas 3 out of the 4 acrophobia inducing bridges are 95 meter long and 30 meter high, the Tree Hanging Bridge, which meanders around a giant tree, is a whopping 105 meter long and 40 meter high. Each of the bridges has a maximum capacity of 8 people, but even if you’re merely by yourself, each step along these elevated passageways triggers a mini bridge-quake.

 

Thankfully, the thrill-seeking adventure is accompanied by a stunning views of the rainforest’s upper parts, as well as a distant glimpse of Lake Nicaragua in Costa Rica’s northern neighbor.

The entrance to the 95 meter long El-Tapir Bridge, named after the elusive mammal that roams throughout this forest

photography by: Omri Westmark


The sheer slender proportions of the bridge

photography by: Omri Westmark


The magnificent forest vista from the hanging bridge

photography by: Omri Westmark


A suspension bridge preciously stretching across the forest's canopies

photography by: Omri Westmark


A distant glimpse of a dormant volcano, looming between the foliage

photography by: Omri Westmark


The 95 meter long and 30 meter high El Trogon Bridge

photography by: Omri Westmark


The forest's floor is visible through the lattice deck of the bridge

photography by: Omri Westmark


Every bridge has an info sign greeting hikers before embarking on their adventurous journey to the other side

photography by: Omri Westmark


The 105-meter-long Tree Hanging Bridge

photography by: Omri Westmark


Approximately at the bridge's mid-point, it winds around a giant tree, hence its name

photography by: Omri Westmark


The spectacular views as seen from the hanging bridge

photography by: Omri Westmark