High up in the rainforest-covered mountains of Monteverde, Costa Rica, The Bat Jungle is a top attraction that offers an educational guided tour of an extensive bat exhibit. There's also the chance to see nearly 100 of these mysterious mammals flying free in a simulated natural habitat, designed to resemble the cloud forest at night. Operated by reknowned bat biologist Dr. Richard K. Laval, The Bat Jungle aims to introduce the world to the wonder of bats.
Baby Honduran tent bat — Photo courtesy of Geoff Gallice
The tropical forests of Central America are home to the greatest diversity of bats on Earth. Though revered by many indigenous cultures, bats today are often feared and misunderstood. At The Bat Jungle, myths about bats are dispelled and truths about their importance to the balance of the earth's eco-system are emphasized. Did you know that bats enjoy feasting on mosquitos?
Laval, The Bat Jungle's biologist founder, first fell under the spell of bats as a cave explorer, which led him down a lifelong path of studying bats from South Africa to Missouri, while earning a PhD in wildlife science.
Drawing upon his years of bat research and field studies, Laval opened The Bat Jungle in 2006, but not before working as an ecotourist guide, helping found The Monteverde Institute, The Monteverde Conservation League and the Cloud Forest School. Nowhere will you see more bats than at The Bat Jungle in Monteverde.
In addition to a staggering amount of information about bats of all kinds, The Bat Jungle features a 57-foot enclosure that simulates a natural jungle environment. Ninety bats of eight species can be found flying free at The Bat Jungle, and with flashlights, visitors have the opportunity to spot bats flying, socializing, eating and even giving birth.
Fun for the whole family, this batty attraction is appropriate for all ages. Kids and adults can appreciate the special ultrasonic microphone that allows visitors to hear bats echolocating (biosonar) and socializing in real time.
The Bat Jungle is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. It's located across from the Tramonti Restaurant and before Stellas Bakery in downtown Monteverde, on the road from Santa Elena to the Monteverde Cloud Forest Reserve.
Admission to The Bat Jungle is $12. Reservations can be made in advance online, and they're suggested especially for families and small groups. For more information, visit The Bat Jungle's website.