Tamana Caves

Tamana Bat Cave

Useful Information

Location: Northern slope of Mount Tamana aka Tamana Hill, eastern Trinidad.
(10.34999999984645, -61.18333299968536)
Open: No restrictions.
Fee: free.
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave Miocene Guaracara Limestone of the Tamana Formation
Light: lamps provided by tour guides
Guided tours:
Bibliography: Julian S. Kenny (1979): Floor plan, environment, and fauna of Tamana caves, Living World, Journal of the Trinidad and Tobago Field Naturalists' Club.
Michael J. Day, M. Sean Chenoweth (2004): The karstlands of Trinidad and Tobago, their land use and conservation, The Geographical Journal 170 (3): 256-266.
Studies in Speleology Vol X 1995 37-50
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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Tamana Caves are named after Tamana Hill (307 m asl), where they are located. They are bat caves with a population of estimated 500,000 to 3 million bats. There are numerous kinds of bats, including insectivorous (insect eating), frugivorous (fruit eating), and nectivorous (honey eating) bats. There are also some so-called vampire bats, which are blood-eating. This rather rare bats are biting or scratching animals and then lick the blood flowing out of the wound, they actually do not suck like vampires. We have no idea how vampires handle the blood sucking though.

The visitors are advised to wear long trekking pants tucked into the socks, in order to avoid to get bat guano onto the skin. The guides explain, if one had an open wound, he could get bacterial infections from the guano. Wounds should be treated with a cleanser like Detol immediately. The cave is obviously full of a fungus called histoplasmosis, which infects the lungs. This is typical for tropic bat caves, and well known to cavers. We are not sure if putting the pants into the socks really helps, neither does jumping on one foot, so we guess that is a joke of the guides. We recommend wearing a mask while in the cave, it reduces the risc of an infection dramatically, and since Covid-19 we all know how this works. However, most important is to be aware of histoplasmosis, as the symptoms are similar to an influenza and often misinterpreted. If accurately diagnosed it is treated simply with antibiotics and rather harmless. However, if not treated it may be lethal. So if you develop symptoms tell you doctor about the histoplasmosis risk.

Actually it is good to keep your clothes completely closed because of the insects like cockroaches, millipedes and so on, which live on the floor. We would recommend rubber boots, a caver overall, gloves and a mask with dust filter, which would help to avoid breathing the fungus into the lungs.

Around 17:30 in the afternoon the bats start to leave the cave to feed. This is probably the most impressive part of the visit, so if you are not visiting the cave because of the bugs, the trip is still rewarding. Unfortunately the bats fly at dawn, around 18:00 it becomes dark and so its necessary to walk back through the rainforest after dark. Be sure to have good light, appropriate shoes and dry clothes to change.