Windsor Caves

Lonely Planet review

These caverns may be off-the-beaten-track to most people, but they’re a major way point for some 50,000 bats. Their egress and entrance, a massed cloud of skittering airborne mammalian tooth, fur, flap and claw, is a sight to behold (the less said about the smell of their guano, the better). Luckily, the caves were donated to the World Wildlife Fund in 1995 with the proviso that they never be developed, and that’s the case today.

The entrance is a 1km hike from the road, ending with a clamber up a narrow rocky path. Beyond the narrow entrance you’ll pass into a large gallery full of stalactites and a huge chamber with a dramatically arched ceiling; in rainy season you can hear the roar of the Martha Brae River flowing deep underground.

You’ll need a local guide, who can usually be found at Dango’s shop at the end of the road. It’s emblazoned with the epithet ‘Jah love is a burning flame’; here you’ll likely find cave wardens Martell or Franklyn ‘Dango’ Taylor. One of them will lead the way with a flashlight or bamboo torch to visit Rat Bat Cave and the Royal Flat Chamber. Depending on how deep into the cave you wish to go and the size of your group, figure on around US$40 per person.

For experienced cavers who arrive with spelunking gear, Martell or Franklyn will lead the way on a remarkable four-hour subterranean excursion through Windsor Cave all the way to its ‘back door’ at Bamboo Batam. You’ll need to bring 30m of rope and basic rappelling equipment, and a desire to wade for an extended period with water up to your waist in total darkness. Eventually, you will emerge and make the return journey in the blessed daylight. For this you’ll be charged only US$25 per person, but most people are inclined to tack on a substantial tip.