Formerly, researchers and travelers had to explore forested areas by walking on the ground, looking up. Later, canopy walks provided improved access to the heart of a forest. However, building canopy walks was still somewhat invasive as it involved constructing supports and stringing rope bridges. While canopy walks allow humans access to hard-to-reach places, they nevertheless alter the ecosystem. What’s a true eco-tour company to do? Maybe it’s time to get a SolVin Bretzel.
Though the idea is centuries old, the SolVin Bretzel is a relatively new generation of canopy raft. Made from UV-resistant PVC pontoons that are connected by a net, the SolVin Bretzel provides a low-impact, earth-friendly 400m² viewing platform for people to ride in.
In 2003, scientists used a SolVin Bretzel in Panama to undertake research. Though considered a success, the SolVin required a helicopter to fly it into the area, which is not particularly sustainable. Before you “Aw, shucks” your chance to ride in a SolVin, note that SolVin also makes a Canopy Glider — a large helium balloon that could ferry in a Bretzel.
Are helium balloons and giant netted pretzels the future of canopy exploration? I hope so.