Fireflies are available all over the world. In lowlands and in highlands. Mangrove forest is one sure place that fireflies appear and also in good numbers. That's the reason when some locals sighted an unusually consistent assembly, that place would become an attraction. Many destinations posted in publicity brochures and internet had done well, did bring in tourist arrival.
That was how Kampong Kuantan in the Kuala Selangor area started some 20 years ago. Sadly, the locals and the promoters here only knows how to tap this potential and most of them do not know that the type of Fireflies sightings in Kampong Kuantan is very unique and found in only a couple of places in the world. As far as I know, only here in Kampong Kuantan and another place in Brazil. Remember, the phenomenon seen here is synchronized flashing!
What is so special about the Fireflies insect here?
What makes the Fireflies in Kampong Kuantan flash simultamously or which species of insect this Firefly belongs to that could bring about the phenomenon?
I could not find any answer but the insect here is a commonly seen species. Then the mystery is more the questions what makes them all behave this manner? And what is synchronized flashing? All Fireflies flash at one particular rate but each insect need not follow the same rhythm as their neighbour or they should be out of sync. This rate varies with certain conditions. But imagine, if all insect flash at the same sequence, the scene is altered entirely.
In Kampong Kuantan, the boatmen who ferry visitors all belong to one village committee who has monopolized that business. The cost of a boat is fixed at Ringgit 40 for a load of 4 passengers. What actually happen in a trip would be, the boat be allow to drift downstream with the current. Then the boatmen would slowly paddle upstream on the return trip. He would stop near to those trees filled with fireflies and give some time for the passenger to admire the scene. Fireflies here prefer one species of Mangrove tree named which is found in certain inundation level - Sonneratia caseolaris. There were very few such mangrove trees but Fireflies are also seen on other types of trees like acacia. The boatmen would cover almost all the trees one after another in that short stretch of river bank about a kilometers long. Which is usually about 8-10 trees making the ride to last just slightly an hour.
This destination of the fireflies watching is Kampong Kuantan is on-going for over 20 years now. With time, more forest near the river banks were open up. Second tragedy, the water level on Sungei Selangor at this point reduced after the construction of the Petak Dam near Frasers hills. Earlier, the soft muddy banks well concealed by scrubs were conducive to the development of the larvae. Now such environment is shrinking, the lowered water level also affect the dampness of these alluvial bank.
The attractions of seeing many Flireflies though clearly reduced [less trees and less insects] in intensity but the scene of a group fireflies flashing together has not lost its novelty. In good weather and the right timing, the flashing scene on a tree is more dense that that of a well decorated Christmas tree.
On the other hand, with publicity, there is a growing number of tourist arrival.
It is not surprising that good bussiness opportunity brought in a second departure point, opened up in Bukit Belimbing around 2002. This second destination coupled with a restaurant for visitors to combine their trip for Fireflies watching to jive in with seafood dinner in Kuala Selangor. Of course, understood that the Fireflies watching activity could easily end after 10.30 pm, many do not like to have the night journey back to Kuala Lumpur. There are chalets for overnight stay. By the way, it is quite common for local to drive back near midnight or any time in the night. Just watch out for Buffalos on the side the road.
The Bukit Belimbing Fireflies resort is about 2 kilometers downstream from the Kampong Kuantan site. To go to Bukit Belimbing, continue the journey to Kuala Selangor, cross the bridge and turn right. It is on the opposite bank. The road journey between the 2 destinations is over 20 kilometers.
The boats in Bukit Belimbing is equipped to take group up to 12 passengers. Instead of rowing manually, the boat is fitted with electric motors.
I would prefer the authentic and old fashion way of paddling manually.
Dress Code: casual, light clothing. No Mosquitoes, no leeches but sometimes a few sandflies.
Watching a sunset may not be everyone's idea of exciting nightlife and I will admit that it's a relatively short lived event.
But to watch any day end in a blaze of glorious colour remains one of my favourite things to do. Especially while enjoying good food and drinks in great company ;~)
The folded-winf fireflies gather along the banks of the Sungai Selangor.
Some of the mangrove trees are ablaze with flashes.
malay-style wooden boats are oared out on the river to the trees that have the fireflies.
This natural light show is seen at Kuala Kuantan, 10km east of Kuala Selangor.
Rainy or full moon nights are not good nights to go out looking for fireflies.
Walking towards Taman Alam Shah for camping from Kampung Kuantan. We've been informed by local villager that it will only take about 4km and aperhaps about half an hour time. we've started walking about 8.30pm. It's already dark. On the way before reaching the T-junction, out of sudden that we've been showering by rain and we've got lucky as there is a small restaurant for us to stay while waiting for the rain stop.