Texas Hill Country: Bat Caves & Beyond - Atlas Obscura Trips
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Texas Hill Country: Bat Caves & Beyond

from $1,195 USD per person for 4 days, 3 nights
See Dates
  • 12 People Maximum
  • Moderate Activity Level
  • Outdoor Expedition
See Dates
Trip Overview

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.

  • Sunset kayak under Congress Bridge
  • Private concert in a cave
  • Breathtaking bat exodus
  • Healing natural springs


Itineraries and daily schedules are subject to change. We expect to do everything listed in the itinerary, though the order may be rearranged based on weather or other local conditions.

Trip Leaders

Hale Youngblood
Hale designs destination experiences focused on the delightful misuse of space, playing, and getting outside. When not leading trips exploring the underground scenes of central Texas, Hale can be found exploring the mighty Colorado River, producing large-scale, real-life adventure games, and establishing far-flung glamping hotels. Early family road trips to explore the natural and archeological marvels of Mexico prompted his addiction to adventure and set unreasonably high expectations for travel. While studying Architecture at the University of Texas, Hale was a member of the Underground Texas Grotto (UTG), where he got his feet wet (and very dusty) spelunking in some of the countless caves of Austin. Though an experienced globe-trotter, this Texas native can’t seem to escape the draw of his hometown.
Matt Labonville
Matt spent his younger years leading backpacking trips and managing backcountry B&B’s in the White Mountains, and he’s since lived, played, and worked in many remote corners of the world, as well as here in his home of Austin, Texas. He loves gardening; fixing, building, and riding motorcycles; preparing easy approximations of challenging dishes; communing with great people; animals (all of them—but especially his husband Hale and the old dog Jane); breaking out of comfort zones; and way too many things to mention here.

Additional Info


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.

Activity Level

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 trips@atlasobscura.com 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.

  • Two lunches, two dinners, one brunch, and drinks as described in the itinerary.
  • All transportation during the trip. Travel within Austin will be by foot, on a scooter, and in a comfortable 15 passenger van.
  • Experienced local guides to accompany you throughout the trip, as well as special guests throughout.
  • Admission to all proposed activities, locations, and events.
  • A great group of fellow Atlas Obscura fans, excited to explore all that Texas Hill Country has to offer!
  • Transportation to and from Austin, TX
  • Three nights of accommodation in Austin, TX. (Travelers receive a group discount at The Carpenter in Austin)
  • Airport transfers.
  • Travel insurance (recommended).
  • Additional meals and drinks outside of Atlas Obscura offerings, including most alcoholic beverages.
  • Applying for an American visa, if applicable.
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Trip FAQs

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.

Upcoming Departures

  • May 14–May 17, 2020
    from $1,195 per person
Booking and payment processing partners may vary with departure date.
We’re here to help. If you still have questions about the trip, just ask.