Photos: Paula Alvarado.
Although activities that mess with local ecosystems to let humans experience nature usually seem intrusive, looking at the canopy face to face while slowly traveling in an aerial tram in the Costa Rican rainforest is a fairly respectful experience that's great to understand the richness and importance of this habitat.
The tram that allows you to do this was built by the company Rainforest Adventures and is located in a private park in the Atlantic side of Costa Rica (about 50 minutes away from San Jose), covering a 475-hectare (1,200-acre) area. The property shares a 10-kilometer border with the Braulio Carrillo National Park and constitutes a buffer zone between the park and the neighboring farm lands.
According to the company, they were the first to build an aerial tram in the rainforest. Although they're on private land, they claim their installations respect wildlife conservation laws and that their guides make sure the forest is kept in its natural condition.
They also run programs with neighboring elementary schools to teach kids about sustainability and involve high school students in sustainable development discussions about the area that surrounds the national park.
TreeHugger was invited to take the tram when in the country to cover the Planet, People, Peace conference, and we have to say it was a truly impressive experience.
Our guide, Randall, shared interesting facts about the forest: that the second major pollinators are bats because of the great heights, that some plants cover themselves in brown pigments to fool leaf-cutter ants, and that there's a certain kind of tree commonly called 'broccoli tree' that leaf-cutter ants don't eat since it's a fungicide that kills the fungi they need for food.
The amazing part of everything, however, is getting to see the canopy habitat at a height that would be impossible to reach otherwise. Since the tram moves very slowly, you get to take a close look at the plants and animals around. Take a look at the video below (taken at the ground level part of the ride, unfortunately).
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