A growing number of tours let visitors explore the
elevated ecosystem of the rain forest canopy, a luxuriant
and little-known realm that is home for most of the jungle's
plant and animal species. It has only been in the last two
decades that biologists have begun to seriously study the canopy,
using such varied devices as mountain climbing equipment and
construction cranes, and tourists now have the opportunity to
follow them into that biological frontier.
Those opportunities range from a ride on a modified ski
lift that takes passengers floating through the tree tops
to platforms set in the crowns of massive tropical trees, more
than 100 feet above the jungle floor.
All those tours offer a
monkey's-eye view of the rain forest canopy, where thick branches
serve as platforms for an incredible diversity of smaller plants,
and such animals as tree frogs, vine snakes, sloths and hundreds
of bird species.
Adventurous travelers may want to try one of the more rustic
canopy tours, which entail strapping on a mountain climbing
harness and pulling yourself along suspended cables to a series
of small wooden platforms built in the tops of trees. Several
private biological reserves also have platforms in the canopies
of large trees that people are simply hoisted, or hoist
themselves, up to. One private reserve even has a small hotel
room built in the top of a tree, for those who want to spend a
night in the canopy.