Hanging bridges and butterflies
Selvatura Park is one of several private concerns in the Monteverde area that offer various experiences to explore the cloud forest. While not offering quite the pristine ‘back to nature’ experience we found at the other reserves we visited, the Children’s Eternal Rainforest and the Santa Elena Reserve, it still has a sense of wilderness in places. And as we were to discover, it has its share of wonders.
Many come here to do a zipline canopy tour; but we’d decided against that as it’s not advised if you’re prone to back trouble as I am. So instead we booked ourselves on the hanging bridges walk, which I hope will make an interesting Monday Walk for Jo.
The website describes this as:
a peaceful 1.9-mile trail through the cloud forest combining forest trails interconnected with 8 bridges ranging from 170ft up to an amazing 560ft in length
The hanging bridges walk
This was one of the few walks we took in Costa Rica without a guide. You can pay extra for one (quite a lot extra, if I remember correctly) but on the whole we were happy to do it alone. Maybe we missed some wildlife, despite looking carefully; but Marcela’s tour yesterday had equipped us with a fair bit of information about this special ecosystem and we enjoyed identifying some of the details she had pointed out. And with better weather than on that day (dry, mostly cloudy but no moisture) we could take our time over the photos.
However the benefits of having a guide weren’t totally lost on us. Towards the end of the trail we came across a group of three being shown something by their guide. They kindly allowed us to stop and get his guidance in spotting what was causing the excitement – a Resplendent Quetzal! It wasn’t easy to photograph as it was partly hidden among the trees but I got one half-decent shot.
I’m sure we would have missed this had we not run into this group; so it was a real bonus to have done so and to tick off the iconic Costa Rican bird sighting. And as it turned out this was the only one we saw on the trip, making me even more grateful to that guide and the friendly couple who were willing to share the experience.
When we arrived back at the visitor centre there was a ‘butterfly tour’ just starting. Along with about half a dozen other visitors we were escorted to a dome a short distance away. The guide explained how the temperature was controlled to suit the butterflies, a bit warmer than that outside.
Inside the guide showed us Blue Morpho eggs and a caterpillar, and the cocoons of several species. All the species are native to Costa Rica and include the Blue Morpho and Monarch. He explained that some feed on nectar and some on minerals such as potassium, salt and sugar. There were plates of mashed up banana for the latter and a good range of flowering plants for the nectar feeders.
Then we went up to a platform at one end from where we could watch and attempt to photograph the butterflies. I had some success but not with the Blue Morpho which just wouldn’t cooperate and stay still for a second! Using my burst setting helped; I captured a nice sequence of shots, although without a tripod it was impossible to stay completely still, as you can see.
At one point a butterfly landed on my finger. I know it was only interested in the salt in my sweat, but it was nevertheless a special moment! It was happy to be transferred from my hand to Chris’s too, and among others in our small group.
Chris on the left, me on the right
There was also a Scarlet Macaw near the platform, and it was much easier to get photos of him!
This is probably the last of my Costa Rican Monday walks so I’ll be taking you elsewhere in future posts; but I still have a couple more non-walking adventures from that trip to share!
I visited Costa Rica in February 2022
I am in awe of your shots – they’re out-of-this-world gorgeous! My favorite if I HAD to choose was of the red macaw. Which is yours or is like thinking which is your favorite child?!
Haha yes, a bit like that! I’m pretty happy with all these shots as I always edit out my best few for my blogs. I wouldn’t dream of sharing about 75% of the photos I take on each trip 😆 Having said that, my favourites in this set include the opening one, the coiled fern, the butterfly time lapse sequence and yes, the macaw 😀
Yay, I love this ….so calming to see nature!
Thank you Teresa – yes, all this green is such a restful sight 🙂
What a stunning place. I’m not sure about experiencing it via zipline though, surely this is a place to go slow and drink it all in. Really enjoyed this post, Sarah.
Thank you Helen 🙂 I agree about the zipline – if i had felt up to doing that it would have to have been as well as this walk, not instead of!
You’re so lucky to see a quetzal! We visited a different park in the area and a different butterfly garden, but weren’t lucky enough to see one or get a blue morpho picture. Love your butterfly pictures. Maggie
I couldn’t get a blue morpho photo despite chasing them all over the place – they just wouldn’t stay still!
The plant closeups and butterflies are beautiful. Just walking across that bridge would be enough of a thrill. I would skip the zipline too. Although I lived in Central America for three years, I never saw a male quetzal in the wild. How wonderful!
There were eight bridges in total, of varying lengths 🙂 I was amazed that we saw a quetzal, I really didn’t count on doing so!
Amazing diversity and beauty. Thanks for sharing your experience.
Thank you 😀 ‘Amazing diversity and beauty’ – that could be a strapline for Costa Rica!
Thank you Tanja 🙂
Wow you spotted the famous but elusive quetzal – we didn’t get so lucky even in seven weeks! Shame you couldn’t tackle the zipline, that really was exhilarating. I think the nearest we got to seeing a quetzal was going in the “Quetzal Bar” for a beer…
I was amazed we saw one here! We’d done a bird-watching walk a few days before in Arenal and not had any sighting of one, so I’d sort-of written it off by now, and especially on this one walk without a local guide. We were so lucky to bump into this couple as we’d have walked right past it otherwise!
How amazing … it must feels as if you’re walking on top of the trees! I love the photo’s of the butterflies … oh, and what a stunning last photo of the Scarlet Macaw.
Yes, that’s just what it felt like – amazing! Thank you as always 🙂
What a marvellous experience! Thanks for sharing virtually
It was a great experience – thanks Sue, glad you enjoyed it 🙂
Anabel @ The Glasgow Gallivanter
It’s all so beautiful.
Thanks Anabel, glad you liked it 🙂
Wow, it must be a unique experience to walk over the cloud forest, so happy for you! There are ups and downs to use a guide, and we also like to walk on our own, and not feel pressured, or rushed in case the group is bigger.
On the whole in Costa Rica a guide is a good idea, as you need an expert naturalist to be able to spot and identify the wildlife! But it was fun to do this walk on our own for a change 🙂
Wow, splendid! I’d love this walk just as much. And the butterflies! Do you mean to say that it’s the same owl butterfly in both pictures? How peculiar!
I don’t think it’s the SAME butterfly but it’s the same SPECIES, yes – the underside is so different to the upper!
I’ve never been able to do a zip line, although I would like to. But it is an adventure thing and not a wildlife sighting thing – people are so noisy when doing it that the wildlife hides. Although there was a video on the news this morning of a child who was the last person of 8 doing a zip line and he had to stop (with the guide) because there was a sloth using the zipline. They had to wait for the sloth to – very slowly – get off the line. Your walk was much more productive for wildlife sighting. Anyway, as I’m sure you know, each change in elevation has slightly different flora and to a certain extent different fauna. To catch the blue in the blue morpho it almost has to be flying as it looks a lot like the Owl butterfly that you have photographed when it is sitting still.
You’re right Rosalie – you wouldn’t do a zipline to see wildlife. So what an amazing experience for that child 😮
Our guide in the butterfly garden showed us a discarded wing from a dead Blue Morpho and demonstrated how without light falling on it even the upper side doesn’t look blue.
Fabulous butterfly pictures, in particular, and … gotta love that macaw!
Thank you Margaret – he posed beautifully for me 🦜
My favourite…the quetzal!!!
A wonderful bird – I was so pleased to have seen one!
Wow, such vivid colours.
Yes – it’s so fertile here because it gets quite a lot of rain 🙂
Really wonderful pictures! I would love to make that trip some day. The walk among the treetops must have been fabulous but I’m wondering how I would do being a bit afraid of heights.
Thank you 😊 It was wonderful but you might find it unnerving if VERY afraid of heights, as the bridges move while walking on them and also you can look down through the metal mesh floor. But if you can bring yourself to do the first one I think you’d be reassured and be hooked!
the eternal traveller
We love doing canopy walks like this. The views are always fabulous.
It was my first time (well technically second, as we’d actually been on some on a birdwatching walk the previous day!) I loved it and would welcome the chance to do the same again for sure!
the eternal traveller
There are several excellent ones in Australia.
Oh wow, what beautiful beautiful photos, Sarah! 💚💚💚
Sorry Lisa, this comment ended up in my spam and I only just found it! Thank you 😀
Oh, no worries! That happens to me too! 😊
I knew you could go zip lining in places but I hadn’t heard of the bridges. They must give a unique perspective. Your photos and narration make me think again how special Costa Rica is and make me determined to go back again some day.
I hope you get to return and have a walk on these bridges – it’s an amazing way to see the rainforest. I’m sure the zip-lining is exhilarating but there would be no time to really absorb (and photograph) the views!
So sorry, this comment ended up in my spam and I only just found it! Thank you 😀
No problem. You’re welcome
So pleased that you got to see that Quetzal and thanks for persevering with the butterfly pictures – they are such works of art.
Thank you Yvonne 😊
It must have felt very special to be up above the canopy like that, Sarah. I really enjoyed it, vicariously. Thanks so much for a wonderful share.
Yes, you get such a different perspective up there and can appreciate the expanse of the forest and see plants that are invisible from below 🙂
I loved the butterflies too. It’s a weird but wonderful experience to have them flutter around you like that. 🤗💗
It was, especially when one landed on my head, which I forgot to mention because I don’t have a photo!