Cuba & Costa Rica Blog
About this blog
Written by Cuba and Costa Rica expert Christopher P. Baker, this blog will update readers on life in these two diverse and exciting countries.
- Last blog post on Costa Rica and Cuba
- First-ever group motorcycle tours of Cuba successful
- Cuba’s Mariel port readying for Panama Canal expansion
- Musings on wildlife encounters on Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula
- Cuba’s Steam Trains puffing their last gasp
- My top five thrilling activities in Costa Rica
- Cuba’s fun February festivals include Harleys, Books, Cigars
- Five top volcano viewing experiences in Costa Rica
- New road along Costa Rica / Nicaraguan border mired
- Cuba’s Hotel Campoamor at Cojímar to be restored?
- Cuban revolutionary Celia Sánchez honored in new book
- Christmas challenge for Costa Rica’s sexually abused girls
- Costa Rica opens Chinatown in downtown San José
- David Soul films Hemingway’s car restoration in Cuba
- National Geographic Expeditions receives license for Cuba tours
Costa Rica’s bats outnumber all other mammal species
Did you know that this year is the Year of the Bat?
Actually 2012 is the second year of a two-year-long "Year of the Bat" global bat species awareness initiative initiated by the United Nations Environment Program, the Convention on Migratory Species and an amalgam of bat conservation groups, including the Latin American Network for the Conservation of Bats.
With their especially adapted webbed forelimbs, these creatures—which belong to the Chiroptera order of mammals—are the only mammals capable of true flight, just like birds only better. (Flying foxes, which are actually squirrels, and certain species of opossums, can glide for short distances, but not fly.) NO!… bats are NOT rodents, which is a distinct order of mammals.
Although the 1,240 or bat species worldwide represent about one-quarter of the world’s mammal species, Costa Rica’s 112 bat species represent more than half the country’s 216 mammal species. In fact, that equates to about 12 percent of the world’s bat species in this tiny Central American nation. That’s one of the greatest diversities of bats of any nation. Impressive!
I love these much misunderstood and maligned animals!
As the Year of the Bat website states: “The world’s only flying mammals are exceptional, delightful, fascinating and likeable. Bats may be mysterious and misunderstood, but [they] are essential to our global environment... rich biodiversity and well-being, through pollination, seed dispersal, insect control and other eco-services in rainforests, woodlands, wetlands, grasslands, deserts and cities.”
True enough. In fact, many native plant and fruit species in Costa Rica depend entirely on bats for pollination.
Bats are easily seen while exploring almost any habitat in Costa Rica. These lunarphobic, nocturnal animals are easy to spot slumbering on tree trunks, under roof eaves, or even within palm-leaf tents that they’ve made for themselves.
Join me on either National Geographic Expeditions’ 7-day “Costa Rica & Panama Canal” adventure cruise-tours or “Costa Rica: Volcanoes, Jungles and Wildlife” and I’ll guarantee you several close-up-and-personal bat sightings at such places as Casa Orquideas (in the Golfo Dulce), Manuel Antonio National Park, and Tortuguero National Park, plus Barra del Colorado Island (in the Panama Canal)
Four places in Costa Rica that offer even more sensational encounters are:
• Barra Honda National Park. This is the place to go spelunking in search of bats, as the Pozo Hediondo cave is home to a colony of thousands of bats, which you can also see exiting en masse around sunset. Project Abroad, a U.K.-based organization, even seeks volunteers to help in a bat census at Barra Honda.
• Tortuguero National Park is a great place to watch the Fishing bulldog bat, a giant (its wingspan can reach an impressive two feet) that skims the water and seizes fish with its large, gaff-shaped claws. Do yourself the favor of booking into Costa Rica Expeditions’s superb Tortuga Lodge and you can watch these bats scooping up fish right by the restaurant balcony or in front of the horizon-edge swimming pool. Amazing! (By the way, we stay at Tortuga Lodge during National Geographic Expedition’s “Costa Rica: Volcanoes, Jungles and Wildlife” tour.)
• Bat Jungle. This bat-centric museum has a large glass-enclosed habitat designed to resemble the cloud forest at night and where almost 100 bats fly free. See my blog post of December 11, 2009: Exploring Costa Rica's Bat Jungle in Monteverde.
• Tirimbina Rainforest Center has a Bat Research Project and offers nightly tours at 7:30pm that includes a multimedia presentation plus visit to the research center and nocturnal rainforest hike.
Bat aficionados and scientists may wish to know that Costa Rica will host the North American Society for Bat Research’s 2013 International Bat Research Conference.
For complete information about bats, wildlife and travel in Costa Rica, buy Moon Handbook Costa Rica
If you're traveling only to San José and the Caribbean, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Caribbean Coast pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to the beaches of Nicoya, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula pocket guide.
If you're traveling only to Arenal and/or Monteverde, buy Moon Spotlight Costa Rica's Arenal&Monteverde pocket guide.
Learn more about Christopher P. Baker.
Disclosure: I occasionally accept free or discounted travel when it coincides with my editorial goals. However, my opinion is never for sale. The opinions you see in Cuba & Costa Rica Journal are my unbiased reflection of the good, the bad, and the ugly.
Copyright © Christopher P. Baker