Hanging Bridges, Sloths, & Butterflies- Monteverde Cloud Forest {Costa Rica}

We were all up early with great anticipation for a day in the famed Monteverde Cloud Forest. Having arranged a tour with our hotel to visit the Selvatura Adventure Park, the van pulled up in front of the building and we were on our way. The van rumbled up the winding roads towards the park.

Most people come to Costa Rica with ideas of zip lining, rafting, horseback riding, and rock climbing on the itinerary. But we would be enjoying the less extreme activities available due to traveling with a little girl. But that just means we will need to come back and get the full experience another time.

For today we signed up for the hanging bridges, sloth sanctuary, and butterfly garden. When we arrived at the park, we were immediately welcomed by brightly colored flowers set in front of the park’s restaurant.

Hanging Bridges

First up for the day was the hanging bridges that would take us through the canopy of the Cloud Forest. It felt like we were being enveloped in the surrounding rainforest with every step along the path we took as we marveled at the incredible variety and layers of green everywhere. Every thing we saw was covered in vines, moss, and other plants making it all seem magical.

The path takes you further and further up through the canopy with eight hanging bridges along the way. To be in the middle of the forest with trees below and above was incredible and we were excited for each new bridge and the different view of the forest that it would give.

But when we thought that we couldn’t love the bridges more, then the wisps of clouds came in taking the experience to a whole new level. This is the Cloud Forest at its finest when the clouds come in while on a bridge in the middle of it.

The path offered what seemed like an endless amount of wonder. Because we are visiting at the beginning of the rainy season, most of the flowers had finished blooming but here and there we could see the bright color of one popping out from the green. The shape of the trees along the path were so interesting and we loved seeing what was coming along every bend.

We arrived at the highest bridge where we walked across the top of all the trees. We just kept looking down trying to get an idea of how high we were and how far we had come to get to the top. We had loved all the bridges, but this one I think would be the favorite because there is nothing like going across the top of the canopy of the forest.

We made the decent back down the path still marveling at that moment of feeling like we could touch the sky above the Cloud Forest. We finished off this portion of the day with lunch at the restaurant while we waited for the next part to begin.

Sloth Sancuary

We followed our guide down to the sloth sanctuary where as soon as went through the door we were met by one of the residents. The sloth was curled around the building structure looking at us with a look of mild interest before falling back asleep.

The sloths claiming part of the building itself is nothing new. Our guide said that on the second day the sanctuary was open, they couldn’t find one of the sloths. They looked for hours in every corner and spot, and finally found the missing sloth at the very top of the building looking down at them. There was nothing to do but wait for it to make its slow climb back down.

This sanctuary is home to 13 two toed sloths who were all saved from the wild when they would not have survived on their own. Most of them were saved when they were only 2 or 3 months old. All of the sloths here are female, and even though there is the occasional fight for the most part they all get along harmoniously.

It was amazing to watch the sloths and their slow deliberate movements along the rungs of the created structures everywhere. They would release their hands and hang by their feet to reach the food in the bowls. The real thrill came when they would be hanging right above the walkway as we stood below them.

In this safe environment the sloths are likely to live for 40-50 years, while in the wild they would only live half that time if they were lucky. Sloths are not endangered by any means but there is still a desire to protect them from predators and give visitors the chance to see so many in one place.

There was no question that everyone had fallen in love with these gentle souls on our visit to the sloth sanctuary. It was so peaceful watching them move and eat and just be.

Butterfly Garden

The last stop of our tour was to the Butterfly Garden where over 1500 different species call this home. We took a slow walk through the garden being cautious of where we stepped and pausing when butterflies would land on us briefly.

Throughout the garden they had wood cabinets where rows and rows of cocoons in different stages of development. We watched as some butterflies on the bottom row let go of the last remains of their cocoon and fly off to join the others around. It was really interesting to see the different stages and then to watch one of Costa Rica’s famous blue butterflies emerge fully from the cocoon.

There is really something beautiful about being surrounded by so many different butterflies. Butterflies are always a good reminder about how change leads to wonderful new beginnings.

The Cloud Forest has become one of all time favorite places. We loved our day of seeing the park from the canopy of the trees to the creatures that live within the park. But how can anyone not love a hanging bridge and the furry face of a sloth.

If you love a great bridge to cross, then you may be interested in these other places:

Tims Ford State Park- Tennessee

Arikok Natural Bridge- Aruba

Covered Bridge- Vermont & New Hampshire

Thanks for coming along to the Monteverde Cloud Forest. May your pace be slow and sure as you see incredible views.

27 responses to “Hanging Bridges, Sloths, & Butterflies- Monteverde Cloud Forest {Costa Rica}”

  1. Stunning Meg. Sloths are just the cutest animals. The hanging bridges are beautiful and must have been awesome being amongst the clouds.

  2. We loved this place as much as you did! Yes, walking across those bridges is magical and the butterflies so pretty 🙂 You’ve brought back some great memories for me. But we didn’t get to visit the sloth sanctuary unfortunately – it wasn’t included in our tour and we hadn’t thought to bring extra cash to pay for additional activities. I would have loved to get this close to them! However we did see some in the wild near Arenal, so I know how easy it is to fall for them 😀

  3. I can see why you enjoyed this place. Sloths are so cute and gentle, and how neat to walk across the top of a rainforest among the clouds! What a unique experience.

  4. Isn’t it just a fabulous place. As you say, Meg, the sight of all of the mosses and other plants growing on/clinging to/hanging from the trees is otherworldly. It’s a wonderful place. We saw so so many sloths in the wild during our trip, particularly in Manuel Antonio and Cahuita. Every single sighting is a special moment. Loved those hanging bridges, glad you all loved them too…great way to see the forest canopy. (Btw, we did do the zip wires, but in La Fortuna later in the trip….oh my God it’s brilliant, hope you get to do it one day).

    • Fabulous is right! We would have loved to see some sloths in the wild, but the sancuary was fun to see so many in one place. I think there is so much more of Costa Rica we want to see, so many other areas that now were aching to explore. Our next visit will definitely include a zipline because they look amazing 🙂

  5. You had much better weather than us in the cloud forest. It was a constant downpour. It looks so much nicer on your trip 😊 Great sloth pics too! You can’t not love them. Maggie

  6. What an amazing experience to walk across the top of the jungle, through the clouds, and then get to hang out with sloths and butterflies; just wow! Your photos are amazing and have captured the fairytale beauty of the area. I have heard that Costa Rica is stunning and your photos are proof of that. Thanks Meg!

  7. I think I’d prefer these activities to the more “exciting” ones. This looks like a grand day out! It does make me wonder what a sloth fight looks like. Is it in super slow motion? 🙂

    • When our guide said that about sloth fights I honestly laughed out loud. Just the thought of such slow moving creatures fighting is hilarious. It made for a great day all around. 🙂

  8. The hanging bridges seem like a great way to enjoy the Cloud Forest and see all the greenery from a different perspective. As someone who loves sloths, I couldn’t get enough of your pictures of them from your visit to the sloth sanctuary!!! They are so adorable!

  9. I think I would have gone for your itinerary and we don’t even have the excuse of having a ten year old girl 😉 (Well, we may have been tempted into the horse riding). The hanging bridges, the scenery, the cloud wisps and virtually everything about your hike looks spectacular. The sloth sanctuary looks marvellous too, seeing these amazing animals close up is definitely something that’s on our list. I had no idea they can live for so long, given the right environment. Brilliant shot of Tess looking up between a pair of sloths. I’ve seen a few butterfly gardens in my time and we love them, so I’d be up for this too. Cocoon cabinets are so fascinating.

    • Thank you Leighton 🙂 we really loved seeing the sloths and when they were right above her she was ecstatic with excitement… to be fair, the adults would have been too. I had never seen a real butterfly garden before. I was amazed at the cabinets and that could watch them emerge from the cocoon.

  10. We didn’t do any of the ‘adrenaline’ stuff either, we found just the wildlife, great people, food, drink and rainforests were more than enough to keep us busy for 2 weeks 🙂 Your photos of the bridges are beautiful, brings back the happiest of memories for me too.

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