It is the season for ghosts and goblins...and bats too! When you see a group of bats flying high in the sky be cheerful not fearful. Bats are fascinating creatures, and they are vital to the health of our planet. They spread the seeds of trees and plants which ensures the growth of forests. Like bees they are important pollinators. In addition, bats consume huge amounts of insects every night including our nemesis, the mosquito. No matter their shape or size, all bats tend to get a bad rap due to old myths and spooky stories. It is time to set the record straight.
Bats actually need our help because their populations are in decline these days from habitat loss and fungal diseases. Once you learn more about these unique winged mammals you will gain a new appreciation for them and want to help them. They have predictable migration and feeding patterns so it is easy to follow their movements. Check out these five destinations that offer spectacular viewings if you schedule your trip just right.
Too often wildlife travellers overlook Zambia. That is a shame because they miss out on one of the greatest migration spectacles on Earth! From November to December some 10 million straw-coloured fruit bats arrive for the fruiting season. Did you know they can consume twice their body weight in a single night? That is amazing! Head to Kasanka National Park where you can stay on-site at guest lodges and observe these large bats from treetop hides built for the purpose. Bird-watchers can also look for hundreds of different bird species found here.
More information: Audley Travel Group
In lesser developed nations of Europe like Bulgaria bat populations remain in good shape. In fact 33 out of the 35 European bat species can be found in Bulgaria. The Rhodope mountain range offers the perfect lodging for these bats with its abundance of plant life, caves and cliff-side rock formations. They roost during the daytime and head out for their nightly foraging activities as the sun sets. You too can find comfortable lodging in nearby villages and connect with specialized nature tour groups for guided outings.
Sarawak, Malaysia - Mulu Caves
If crawling through cramped dark cave passages is not your style, do not worry. There are places like the Deer Cave in Malaysia at Gunung Mulu National Park where you will have plenty of room to move about and not feel at all claustrophobic. With 400-ft. high ceilings, this cave houses one of the largest bat colonies in the world! Join other visitors who come to the viewing platforms each night to watch several million bats begin their massive exodus out into the twilight sky.
More information: Borneo Adventure
Guatemala - Lanquin Caves
Fancy a bit of ancient Mayan history to go with your bat watching? Then head to the Lanquin Caves in the central highlands of Guatemala. There you will discover a massive limestone caving system so big that large parts of it remain unexplored! The Mayans considered this a sacred place, a passage to the underworld where they performed ritual ceremonies. At dusk you can experience the incredible sights and sounds of thousands of bats flying out for their nightly dinner run.
Costa Rica - Tirimbina Biological Reserve
Here is another beautiful destination in Central America where you can find more than 60 different bat species including the cute Honduran White Bat and the infamous Vampire Bat! Step inside this idyllic private wildlife refuge (known locally as La Tirimbina) and tap your inner explorer. Follow a knowledgeable guide and you will discover the secret life of bats in the rain forest.
More information: Costa Rica
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