Just outside of San Antonio, a grassy sinkhole gives way to a 100-foot-wide gaping cavern. At a glance, the entrance to Bracken Cave resembles what one might imagine the earth would look like mid-yawn—but despite its sleepy exterior, it’s pulsing with life. By dusk, the estimated 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats that roost in Bracken Cave from March until October will begin to make their nightly, high-speed exodus to track down dinner. It’s believed that these soaring mammals scarf down so many insects that they save Texas’ cotton farmers hundreds of thousands of dollars on insect control each year.
Join us on an illuminating four-day journey into the caves, karsts, and aquifers of central Texas, where we’ll witness firsthand how these magnificent mammals help to maintain balance within the Hill Country’s fragile ecosystem. Alongside local experts and bat biologists, we’ll venture into caverns, wade through healing springs, and kayak out to bridges brimming with bats—following the ethereal, aerial commute of these wondrous winged creatures.
Our trip begins with a welcome dinner in Austin on Day 1. We recommend you arrive in Austin by 2 p.m. on Day 1, so you can settle into your accommodations and make your way to meet our guide and group in time for dinner. Our trip concludes in the afternoon on Day 4. If leaving Austin directly after our trip, we recommend departing that evening or the following morning. If you'd like to extend your trip, we’re happy to provide suggestions for things to do in the city on your own.
Travelers should feel comfortable walking two to four miles each day, climbing stairs and remaining on their feet for long periods of time. They should also be comfortable in small spaces (namely, caves!) and in water. Keep in mind that, though we’ll beat the heat of summer, Texas in the spring can be hot and humid, and we’ll be spending time in caves with nearly 100% humidity. Sun protection (hats, sunglasses, sunscreen) is highly recommended. Bathing suits are a must!
We recommend staying at the Carpenter Hotel in downtown Austin, which is near our central meetup point for the trip. When making reservations, members of our group will receive a discount (discount code will be provided in your reservation confirmation). Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like assistance with securing accommodations. If you choose to stay elsewhere, we strongly recommend staying in downtown Austin. We are happy to suggest neighborhoods for booking Airbnbs and other alternate accommodations.
With an average high of 82°F and a low of 60°F, May in central Texas will almost certainly be on the hotter side of warm. However, the weather in central Texas is extremely difficult to predict, and cold fronts and heat waves often occur in the spring. May is also a high risk month for flash flooding, and though rain storms here are a marvel to behold, they’re better enjoyed with some basic gear like a good rain jacket.
Most dietary restrictions can be accommodated, though in most cases ingredients can't be substituted or omitted from particular dishes. If you have a severe allergy, please contact us to find out if this is the right trip for you.
No! Though we'll certainly become closer to bats on this trip in a figurative sense, we'll be keeping a respectful distance from them.
A portion of the proceeds from this trip will be donated to Merlin Tuttle’s bat conservation projects. By sharing your experience with friends and family members, you can also help to destigmatize bats and spread the word about their crucial—and threatened—role in our environment and food systems.
No, but there will be some great swimming holes to explore! You’ll also have the opportunity to kayak on this trip, and life jackets will be provided.