5 Amazing Rainforest Canopy Adventures

Rainforest Canopy Rafting

Rafting in the treetops? Rafts are for rivers, right? Well, not always.

Rainforest rafting is actually a form of ballooning, where explorers send a hot air balloon or dirigible floating above the canopy. To get scientists down into the treetops where they can explore canopy life, they suspend a sled or "raft" underneath the balloon to lower the explorers into the vegetation. Rainforest explorer Dany Cleyet-Marrel invented the canopy raft in 1985, though he had been using balloons for exploration since the mid-1970s.

Canopy rafts can rest on the treetops and are large enough to hold dozens of researchers. In fact, a canopy raft expedition consists of around 50 people, according to Wired UK, and can cost about a million dollars. But in terms of rainforest research, it pays big dividends. Scientists can live in the canopy for weeks, getting to know it like their own neighborhood -- assuming they have poisonous insects and deadly snakes for neighbors.