If you’re the kind of traveler that seeks out off-the-beaten-track nature and wildlife experiences – then get ready for a unique adventure like no other — to watch snakes catching bats out of mid-air.
When we think of snakes, we don’t normally think of stepping into their natural habitat to be immersed by them. In fact, as a population, we are typically quite fearful, especially those of us living in more cosmopolitan areas – however, this once-in-a-lifetime adventure sounds like something straight out of ‘Indiana Jones’ or ‘Jungle Book’, and is not to be missed.
‘The Cave Of The Hanging Snakes’ (Las Cuevas de las Serpientes Colgantes) or ‘Bat Cave’ – is known as Kantemó Cave, located deep in the heart of Quintana Roo, just off the border of Yucátan State.
@fearlessandfar Would go inside the Cave of Hanging Snakes in Mexico? #mexico #tulum #adventure #travel ♬ original sound – Mike Corey
Scientists believe this has been going on for around 200 years. As the light starts to fade and the sun starts to set, for one hour and a half, its inhabitants begin to stir. Around 100 bats a second pour out of the cave, and the snakes dangle down to pluck them by their mouths from the air.
The Yucátan Peninsula is famed for its magical cenotes of varied sizes and structures, some known for incredible diving and others for their crystal clear warm waters, but only one cave has gained notoriety for its natural phenomenon, which could be considered interesting or a little creepy for others.
Caves make great homes for bats, but bats are also food for other animals, especially the snakes that call this cave home.
Is It Dangerous?
As daunting and scary as this sounds, these small snakes aren’t a threat to humans because they aren’t venomous and are actually completely harmless, being both deaf and nearly blind. These yellow-red rat snakes are called mousetrap snakes (pseudelaphe flavirufa), and they are common in the forests of the Yucatán Peninsula. However, this is the only population in the world that has created this specific way of hunting. As dusk descends, their darker side comes out.
These reptiles typically prey on small animals, lizards, and rodents that are found on the ground. However, they have cleverly mastered the art of hanging from the ceiling in pursuit of catching these bats from the air, simply by sensing the vibration from them as they speed through the cave. There are six species of bats that co-exist in the cavern, and the snakes have plenty to choose from. Some bats are frugivores, and others are insectivores.
How To Get There?
The cave is located in the municipality of José Maria Morelos, in the south of the Quintana Roo state. If you aren’t staying nearby, you can arrange a tour from your hotel in Cancun via EcoColors Tours.
Alternatively, you can make your own way there; it’s roughly a 2-hour 20-minute drive west from Bacalar or a 2-hour 40-minute journey southwest of Tulum. Plus, with the upcoming Maya Train, the train route plans to stop at Felipe Carrillo Puerto, which isn’t too far from this area, making it a perfect stop to come and witness this attraction.
Visiting The Cave
We all hear about hidden gems, but this is truly one of the most undiscovered attractions in the state – it is said that only around 300 visitors actually bother to visit the cave every year, so you could potentially have the bat cave all to yourselves.
According to National Geographic – a certified guide is required for this trip with groups no larger than 10, with a restriction on touching or disturbing the wildlife. This is to minimize the impact on the cave and the natural habitat.
Luckily for us, the serpents don’t seem to be affected by their spectators. It’s a year-round occasion, and in the 65-foot-wide cave, you should expect to be crawling on your hands and knees in places where bats will be flying around them. It costs around $30 USD to enter the cave or roughly 630 Mexican pesos – the tour will provide you with a head torch and helmet to navigate through the area.
The nearby village of Kantemó is tucked away in the jungle, and most of the locals are of Mayan descent and have known about the cave for several years. They are dedicated to preserving the cave as part of their cultural heritage – the cave has been carved into the jungle after millions of years of rainfall – and it’s worth noting, as incredible as this attraction is, they are still wild animals, and you are not guaranteed to see the snakes hanging from the ceiling feeding on the bats.
This secret attraction was once where few would tread due to Mayan legends stating that evil spirits lived in the cave, however as the attraction has evolved, it is now a hidden gem, a stone’s throw from the tourist hotspots of Riviera, an evening of exhilarating adventure and curiosity awaits you in the heart of the jungle!
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