Thursday, June 14, 2012

Bat Cave in Panama

Visiting Bocas del Toro, Panama one adventure we undertook was a visit to a bat cave near Bahia Honda.  Apparently there are two local men "approved" for this tour though others try and do it as well.  You take a motor boat to the mouth of the river, then paddle up the river to a dock near a local community.  (Sadly, here you find emaciated, parasite ridden, starving dogs.  I gave them the majority of my lunch and some kind petting but that is not going to save them I am sure). 

There is a 1km hike through an abandoned cacao plantation.  Apparently a cacao fungus destroyed the plantation's crops so they now make money by charging tourists to see the bat cave.  ($4, believe it or not).  So you hike a small distance, seeing sloths and strawberry poison dart frogs on the way, to reach the mouth of the cave. 

A headlamp is a must for this adventure, and swimwear.  You enter the cave and look up to see the bats (see photo one - that is looking up).  I brought a small camera in a ziploc bag so I could take a few photos.  Most of the bats (four species here, including nectar and fruit bats) are in the first few meters of the cave.  You hike along the cave, starting in ankle deep water, and the depth fluctuates, gradually getting deeper, until it is chest deep - and then you come upon a small pool and a waterfall deep inside the cave.  Supposedly you can kike another hour and a half (would love to do that sometime!) but our group was ready to turn around after the pool.

In addition to the bats, we saw a scorpion spider and a few smaller spiders.  We both just LOVED this adventure!  The bats were so cool to see and hear, the hiking was a great adventure as you had to kind of feel your way along the cave walls, and the cool water was actually nice.  At one point we all turned our lights off and it was pitch black.  Luckily one of the guys in our group spoke decent Spanish and translated the guide's communications; he spoke little English.  I understood a portion of what he said but not all. 

FABULOUS excursion I will long remember and would not hesitate to do again!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The elusive sloth! At last!

I finally managed to see sloths in the wild!  On a recent trip to Panama we were able to see several three-toed sloths.  Here is a photo of one of the males.  We spent our trip in Bocas del Toro, Panama, which was gorgeous and offered great snorkeling as well as some nice jungle habitat.  We spent a few nights at La Loma Jungle Lodge, which had gorgeous accommodations in an eco-lodge in the rainforest.  We saw a mom and baby sloth off the main lodge platform upon arrival and several more when we took an excursion to see some bat caves.  

On previous trips to Costa Rica and Ecuador I failed to see the world's slowest animal, so although having been lucky enough to see leopards and cheetahs and other speedy, elusive creatures...the sloth was my great hope for this trip.  Very happy to finally see them!!!