Gliding along a river in silence in the early evening, visitors to Kampung Kuantan, just 56 km from Kuala Lumpur, witness a festival of synchronised fairy lights emanating from millions upon millions of fireflies.
Situated around 9 km from Kuala Selangor, Kampung Kuantan has become a major tourist attraction thanks to this extraordinary natural phenomenon, and over the past couple of years, boats and facilities have been upgraded making for safer and more comfortable tours.
This unusual phenomenon can be found only in two places in the world, at the Selangor River in Malaysia and on another river in Brazil. The Malaysia Fireflies are locally known as “Kelip Kelip”, meaning “blinking”. Of course, it is virtually impossible to take useable photos of these blinking lights from a moving boat in the dark of night. Suffice to say that the spectacle of the fireflies is akin to seeing a wall of Christmas trees as far as the eye can see with magic lights blinking all in unison… all provided by mother nature.
The fireflies dwell along the Selangor river banks, feeding on the Berembang mangrove trees (Sonneratia Casolaris) that grow in the brackish water. These mangroves can be found 8 km upstream and 18 km downstream of Kuala Selangor. Embarking on eco-friendly rowing boats, visitors are able to observe the fireflies in very close proximity, guided by a local boatman. The attraction is open between 8.00pm and 10.30pm daily (except for rainy days).
History of Watching Fireflies in Kuala Selangor
Firefly watching was initially done by local and foreign scientists along Selangor River about 25 years ago. News about fireflies in Kampung Kuantan began to attract residents around Kuala Lumpur to come see this natural wonder for themselves, and from that point, Kampung Kuantan villagers started renting boats to local tourist to see fireflies. It was only in 1989 that the Malaysia Utility Company, in collaboration with the local council built a proper jetty, ticket counter and rotating system for boatman. Since then Kampung Kuantan has become known as the Kampung Kuantan Fireflies Park.
About the Fireflies
According to researchers, around 1,900 – 2,000 species of fireflies can be found in the world, and in Kuala Selangor, three species of fireflies can be found along the Selangor Rivers. The most common is Pteroptyx Tener, which has the particularity of having synchronised blinking. The light produced by Fireflies is a way of communicating. Male fireflies will produce a light that is twice as bright as a female, to attract the female for mating. One Male firefly can mate with up to 5 females in one night.
There is no particular season to watch fireflies in Kuala Selangor. It is open 365 days a year regardless of festivals or holidays.