The Bats of Calakmul, Mexico


All tours are operated independently of IBRC/NASBR, and organized by generous volunteers. As with all travel, we strongly encourage participants to secure appropriate travel insurance including trip cancellation and travel health insurance.

Register at

August 13th to 17th (4 full days of activities and 5 nights, one day for arival at Chetumal, and one day for leaving via Chetumal).

Travel: Pick-up and drop-off at Chetumal International Airport

Cost: $1250 (flights not included)
Minimum: 15 people  Maximum: 20 people.

Transportation to and from all sites for the full duration and to and from Chetumal International Airport, access to all tourist attractions, five nights at luxury hotels, three meals with at least one traditional Yucatecan meal per day, two nights of mist-netting for a chance of catching the spectral bat (Vampyrum spectrum), guaranteed sighting of the woolly false vampire bat (Chrotopterus auritus), travel insurance, snacks and beverages throughout, and bilingual nature guides for birdwatching and spelunking.

General recommendations:
We ask that all attendees are fully vaccinated against Covid-19 and commit to following local guidelines regarding social distancing, use of facemasks, and hygiene. People who intend to manipulate bats are required to be vaccinated against rabies and to observe the use of gloves and facemasks at all times while handling them. Participants will need to bring their field equipment, including headlamps, protective leather gloves (for bats), binoculars (for birdwatching), a reusable water bottle of appropriate size considering the warm climate, sunscreen, insect repellant, field boots, a raincoat, and extra clothes. At Bacalar, attendees will be able to swim, so a swimming suit should also be part of the equipment. While the trip includes travel insurance, we advise all participants to have their own medical insurance in order. Special needs such as allergies and dietary restrictions should be informed to staff beforehand. A basic first aid kit will be available for mild health issues (gastrointestinal issues, mild allergic reactions, cuts and bruises, sunburn, etc.), but every participant is responsible for their own special medical needs such as medication and their safety while carrying out activities. Bringing some money for the purchase of handcrafts and other souvenirs is also advisable.

Day by day
Day 1: August 13th
Attendees can leave at 06:00 from Austin, Texas, for Chetumal, Quintana Roo by plane, arriving at 13:30 local time (one stop at Miami). At arrival, they will be received with a snack and will be transported to Calakmul, where Doña Rosa, a local Mayan cook and craftswoman, will receive them with a homemade traditional dish for dinner. For the night, participants will sleep at a luxury hotel immersed in the jungle.

Day 2: August 14th
After breakfast, we will travel to the El Hormiguero archaeological site, where a nature guide will take us birdwatching at a local watering hole. El Hormiguero, besides being an impressive Mayan temple with intricate decorations, is home to a family of the rare woolly false vampire bat (Chrotopterus auritus), which attendees will have a chance of meeting up close. After a late lunch, guests will help set up mistnets on a trail near the temple where the even rarer spectral bat (Vampyrum spectrum)lurks, for a chance of meeting the largest bat in the American continent, the “jaguar on the wing”. This site is also home to a great diversity of weird and remarkable bats, such as the wrinkle-faced bat (Centurio senex), the yellow-throated big-eared bat (Lampronycteris brachyotis), the Cozumelan golden bat (Mimon cozumelae), Schmidt’s big-eared bat (Micronycteris schmidtorum), and many others.  For the night, participants will return to the hotel for a late dinner.

Day 3: August 15th
After an early breakfast, we will leave for the Calakmul archaeological site, 60 km into the heart of the jungle, a trail that is known for a high chance of wildlife sightings including jaguars, tapirs, peccaries, howler monkeys, spider monkeys, great curassows, ocellated turkeys, ornate hawk-eagles, and many more. Early morning at the site will be spent birdwatching, and the afternoon exploring the UNESCO world heritage site. After late lunch at a local restaurant in the jungle, we will head to the Volcán de los Murciélagos, the Bat Volcano, where we will watch more than 2 million bats erupt from their cave under the watchful eyes of owls, falcons, and other predators.

Day 4: August 16th
This day, we will explore the Mayan underworld with a visit to the Cristobal Colón caves. After breakfast, we will leave for the caves, where two expert local guides will take groups of 10 into these natural wonders featuring underground pools, antique cave formations, and bats in their natural roosts. For late lunch, Doña Rosa will have another delicious dish ready for us, and attendees will have time afterward to browse through 20 de Noviembre’s handcrafts, including hand-carved wooden artifacts, embroidered clothes, and hammocks. Later, we will head back to El Hormiguero for a second chance of catching Vampyrum spectrum and other bats, and will ultimately return to the hotel for dinner and rest.

Day 5: August 17th
After breakfast, we will pack up and prepare for a day of rest and relaxation at Bacalar, the Seven Coloured Lagoon. Here, we will have the option of visiting a unique ecosystem where stromatolites, mangroves, and orchids coexist in crystal-clear waters, a secluded cenote in the jungle, and/or the Spanish fort that used to defend this small town from Belizean pirates. The afternoon will be spent relaxing at a beachside restaurant, before heading to a luxury lakeside hotel in the area for dinner and relaxation.

Day 6: August 18th
After breakfast, attendants will be transported to Chetumal airport, where a flight for Austin will leave at 11:30, and will arrive at 18:30 (1 stop at Mexico City airport).