As far as hiking habits go, ours tend to always lead us well off the beaten path. We’ve taken tumbles into poisonous plants, trodden on venomous snakes, and been chased off Australian military bases by ferocious rottweilers.
During some of our more adventurous hikes we’ve found ourselves stranded in the Australian Outback for days, gasping for air at 19,000 ft above sea level, and in a tug of war with Amazonian squirrel monkeys over the ownership of our GoPro.
You can now add “stuck in a bat cave in the Panamanian jungle” to our list of hiking exploits.
Surrounded by a belt of tropical rainforest, trekking off the beaten path in Panama is fairly easy to achieve. And Soberania National Park is the best place to do just that. With over 400 species of exotic birds, and over 105 species of mammals, the park is a haven for wildlife enthusiasts, and a great way to spend a day hiking through the real Panamanian jungle.
Dropped in the middle of the rainforest with a promise transportation would return to meet us again at the end of the night (it didn’t), we were so far off the beaten path there was nothing but intense vegetation in sight.
Trekking further and further into the jungle, the forest quickly became more and more dense. We were sweating profusely from the heat and humidity, dedicating one hand to continually swatting away mosquitos, though the adrenalin of the adventure kept us going. The trail soon disappeared and we began blazing our own path through the intense overgrowth.
We were scanning the rainforest for the likes of sloths, coatimundis, monkeys, toucans, kinkajous and tropical birds, though instead, found ourselves stumbling through the dark in an abandoned pipeline from World War II as vicious looking bats flew at our face.
I mean, afterall, if you found yourself in the middle of the jungle in Central America and stumbled across an abandoned pipeline, wouldn’t you choose to step inside too?!
The sheer amount of bats within this pipe-line was terrifying. Though we had already ventured in too far to turn back.
They clung to the cement walls in groups, staring us down like a riot squad just waiting for the order to attack. When one flew, they all flew. It was a flurry of a hundred screeching bats and all we could do was duck to shield our face.
Their sharp tiny teeth glistened in the darkness as they snarled at us from above for interrupting their peace.
With our GoPro extender in hand, we made the best of the situation and decided we may as well try to get some kick ass photography out of the ordeal.
That day we spent 2 hours in a bat cave in the Panamanian jungle.
It was incredibly difficult to snap a decent photo, and especially to catch one on camera mid flight with wings spanned. Half the problem being that I would jump and scream like a little girl as they took flight centimetres from my face!