In between forays into the culinary offerings of Selangor, the participants of Eat Travel Write Selangor Culinary Adventure visited the top tourist attractions in the state. One of the most popular attractions outside Kuala Lumpur are firefly watching tours down the Selangor River from Kuantan Village, nine kilometers away from Kuala Selangor. This area boasts of having one of the largest colonies of fireflies in the world. Lightning bugs are locally called kelip-kelip, which Malaysian participants told me adorably meant “blink-blink.” Selangor River is populated with high concentrations of a single species, Pteroptyx tener, which emits synchronized flashing.
Before proceeding to the river jetty, we dropped by the visitor’s center to watch a video explaining the biology of fireflies and the local conservation efforts to protect them. The firefly watching tours start from sundown at 7:30 PM and run until 10:30 PM. From the village jetty, we boarded traditional wooden rowboats called sampan, which can accommodate only up to four passengers each. The boats only took us a few hundred meters upriver from the jetty, where large colonies of fireflies congregated in berembang or crabapple mangrove (Sonneratia caseolaris), the preferred residence of these fascinating insects in these parts.
Flash photography was not permitted to avoid disturbing the glowing critters, hence, I had to make do with taking long exposures, which was made more challenging when done on an unstable rowboat. Our boatman patiently tried to steady the sampan while I photographed the firefly colonies. After several blurry tries, I was able to capture their greenish light trails.
While witnessing fireflies always fascinates me, I was disappointed that the boats didn’t take us further into the river away from the bright lights of the jetty. I enjoyed the firefly watching tours in Palawan and Bohol in the Philippines more, because we traveled deeper into the river into pitch-black darkness away from any source of light pollution. There, the fireflies shone more brightly, making the encounter a whole lot more magical. In Palawan, our tour coincided with clear night sky with shooting stars and bioluminescent plankton in the river! Nonetheless, the firefly watching tours in Kuantan has the advantage of being located less than two hours’ drive from a major metropolis like Kuala Lumpur, making it a much more convenient destination to experience this natural wonder from the big city.
For more information on firefly watching in Kuantan Village, visit the Tourism Selangor page. Besides the state-run Kampung Kuantan Firefly Sanctuary, another place to watch fireflies in Kuala Selangor is the privately-owned Firefly Park Resort at Kampung Bukit Belimbing.
This blog post was made possible through Eat Travel Write Selangor Culinary Adventure, a media trip held last June 11 to 14, 2015 in Selangor, Malaysia. The event was organized by Tourism Selangor and media coordinator, Gaya Travel Magazine.