The Bat Caves of Parisaia
Nid and I are huge fans of the Batman so when the opportunity came to visit bat caves in East Guadalcanal, we had to go for the odd chance that it could lead to the lair.
The eight of us got to our meetup point at Parangiju Lodge at about 11:30 am. Possibly the worst time ever to start a hike in the Solomons but some of our group were out watching rugby and drinking the night before and desperately needed their beauty sleep. We pick up three guides for the eight of us: one front guide, one back guide, and one guy to watch our vehicle.
Our starting point begins at a river basin about ten minutes drive from the lodge. We set off and get our shoes wet with our first river crossing 10 seconds into the walk. They stay wet for the duration of the hike which doesn’t involve a lot of walking at all but a lot of zig-zagging across the river via scrambling, climbing, jumping, wading, and slipping. This is our second hike in the Solomons and we have decided to lower our expectations by not ever expecting a path when someone says ‘hike’.
Somewhere along our path, our guides prove their worth by spotting a red snake sunning itself on rock and make us cross to the other side of the river to avoid it. If this is what we pay our guides for then they are worth EVERY PENNY! I start seeing snakes lurking in anything that casts a shadow but fortunately, the jungley bush, blue babbling water, mossy rocks and big fallen trees are stunning distractions.
After about an hour and a half we reach the grand entrance of the bat cave.
We stop to feed the machine, leave our backpacks with one of the guides, and then start exploring the cave. I’ve been into bat caves before and they are always dark, smelly, drippy, and harbouring creepy crawlies I don’t want to know exist. This one was no exception. Worse in fact because the only way to get through it is by wading through the river in what is essentially bat poo sewage central.
The walk to the end of the cave and back takes about 15 minutes and it’s about now that our GoPro packs up for the day which means we don’t have any pictures of bats in caves. But you can take our word for it that there were many, many, bats in caves with orange, beady bat eyes glaring at us whenever we shone the torch up at them. The fear of getting hit by a flying shit was high. And the calibre of this bat shit is up there in the wettest and most substancey bat shit I’ve ever experienced. By the time we come out, everyone is covered in some quantity of shit and ready for a rinse in the waterfall.
We make the return trip by doubling back and of course, it starts to rain. Like, really rain. Since we were wet already, none of us were very much upset but it takes us over two hours to get back to our starting point. It did mean at least that if any of us were crying because we didn’t find Batman, it made it easier to hide the tears of disappointment.
By the time we arrive at our vehicle the rainwater has washed the loose dirt from the logging into the river and turned it into an environmentally concerning tea colour. We head back to Parangiju Lodge for a cold beer which is exciting because beers aren’t always served cold here in the Solomons.
One twisted ankle, a few fears conquered, only a few blisters, no success on the Batman front, but another tick on our Solomons Hikes To Do list. A very excellent walk well worth a few bat shit stains.
The Dets in Less Words
Honestly, do it – the walk is beautiful and remains our favourite Honiara day walk. Have a reasonable level of fitness, but it’s sure-footedness that will mean the difference between whether you enjoy the walk or not. Wouldn’t recommend bringing kids unless they are ninja cats, and would definitely leave grandma at home. Organise your guide beforehand, don’t just turn up.
Contact Stephen Riniu on 740 5220. He owns Parangiju Lodge and arranges all walks, meals, and accommodation at the lodge. If you are looking to eat there, let the Lodge know beforehand otherwise the kitchen may not be open. The Lodge is currently making some renovations so expect it to look really flash in the near future.
$200 per person
Free car parking
Meals are $100-$140
Because the drive to Parangiju Lodge takes a while, it pays to meet up with your crew beforehand for carpooling and ensuring your convoy is 100% 4wds. I suggest ANZ cafe in Ranandi so you can load up with coffees and lunch snacks. The drive is about 30-minutes east out of town until you reach the Parangiju Lodge turnoff. Then another 30ish minutes along some gnarly logging tracks to get to Parangiju Lodge where your guides will be waiting. Take a 4wd otherwise your adventure may be a completely different one to the one we had.
If you’re coming in from town, allocate most of a day. The drive takes just over an hour from Honiara. The walk to the batcave will take around 1.5 to 2 hours each way, and the batcaves about 20 to go in and then back out. Although most of the walk will be in the cool river, it pays to start early when it’s cool, sometime between 8am-9am.
- A 4wd
- Drinking water
- Walking shoes (+duct tape)
- Lunch and snacks (+extra for guides)
- Drybag for phone and camera
- Towel, change of clothes, and jandals to leave in the car.