The Monteverde Cloud Forest is the jewel in Costa Rica's ecotourism crown. Towering trees climb 1,500 metres up the Tilaran mountains in the west of the country where the cloud forest, wreathed in mist, harbours rare birds, mammals, the largest growth of orchids in the world, and now, a host of high-in-the-sky adventure activities.
North of the protected reserve of Monteverde is Sky Adventures' Sky Walk, Sky Tram and Sky Trek, the company's high-altitude exploration of the forest - by foot, tram and zip line - in the same mountainous region.
Here the tangled forest is stuffed with palm umbrellas, glass-winged butterflies, some 32 types of hovering hummingbirds, and trees dense with samphire-green moss and lichens, and the dangling, pointy leaves of thousands of branch-hogging, nutrient-sapping epiphytes.
The one-and-a-half-mile walk through the sky with a nature guide from Sky Adventures on the Sky Walk takes intrepid visitors along five huge suspension bridges spanning canyons in the lush cloud forest. The gentle and informative walk allows for close-up views of plants, insects and butterflies, while the broad and beautiful views of the forest and its botanical laboratory can be seen when branch openings in the treescape allow!
Here, in the Monteverde area, the forest drips with condensed water from the clouds, and the silence of the wooded mountain is only broken by the birds where the distinctive call of the slaty-backed nightingale thrush competes with the pretty, sparkling ring of the grey-breasted wood wren.
The tour passes clumps of cecropia trees, popular with the three-toed sloth, the ficus strangler which may take up to 400 years to strangle its tree prey, and clusters of brightly coloured fungus. The highlight is a fairly close encounter with howler monkeys who have a favourite munching spot on the branches above bridge number three!
After the Sky Walk, a quick test of zip lining skills is undertaken, before adventurers board the Sky Tram - a set of cable cars - that climb very slowly up to a height of 1,770 metres allowing observers to really get up close to birds and leaves. The cable car can be stopped so that binoculars and cameras can be trained on any birds or other wildlife spotted on the journey.
The ultimate adrenalin rush with Sky Adventures is the Sky Trek. Some 1.7 miles of zip line cables zig zag from the Sky Tram height platform of 1,770 metres all the way to the ground allowing for some monkey-swinging over the treetops! This two-hour zip line descent on cables stretching from 100 to 750 metres is a thrilling way to explore the forest and get a bird's eye view of this natural paradise.