My Visit to the Firefly Valley Leisure Park in Kota Tinggi

My Visit to the Firefly Valley Leisure Park in Kota Tinggi

Catch the magical twinkling lights of the fireflies in Kota Tinggi at the Firefly Valley Leisure Park.

Fireflies are not a common sight in the cities but these beauties can be admired in all its glory in Kota Tinggi, just two hours from Singapore or four hours from Kuala Lumpur by car. The Firefly Valley Leisure Park is one of two parks in Kota Tinggi that promotes itself as an exclusive spot for visitors to catch the dazzling bugs in action.

Over a long weekend, my family and I made a trip to the park to catch a glimpse of the natural phenomena. A short 15-minute drive from the city centre of Kota Tinggi took us deep into the heart of a palm tree plantation, where one can barely see anything in the dark of the night. We arrived at the entrance of the park upon going down a steep slope.

At the front, we were greeted by an outdoor tze char restaurant as well as the ticket counter from which we purchased tickets for the boat ride to see the fireflies. Each ride costs RM20 for adults and RM12 for children. While waiting for the boat ride, you can take a stroll around the mini farm where different animals, from rabbits to wild boar, are kept.

There was also a quaint old-style playground, and for the adventurous, a rickety bridge that connects one side of the farm to another.

When our turn for the boat ride came, we headed for the docks as a group of 15. We were soon led to a fairly wide river. While the jetty was illuminated by a nearby Chinese temple, everything else in our surroundings was pitch-black. We were fitted with life vests and after about five minutes of waiting, we spotted the boat gliding across the dark waters with the group of visitors that arrived before us.

We boarded the boat shortly and were instructed to be seated in a group of three on each bench so as to balance the boat. We were also told that photography was not allowed as it would disturb the fireflies. It was their mating season, and the light that they emit was important in attracting a mate. Although we were not able to take photographs, the prospect of seeing fireflies for the first time was enough to placate our disappointment.

firefly valley leisure park kota tinggi

Soon, the boat set off from the jetty and pulled us further away from the bright lights. As our eyes gradually adjusted to the darkness, we kept our eyes on the shrubbery, scanning the shadows to find what we had come for.

The bright lights from the jetty were still burnt into my eyes and it played tricks on me, dancing with the shadows of the leaves and branches that swayed in the wind. Then, a flash appeared, so small that I was unsure if it was just another trick of the eye. But another small white light appeared and soon the boat was hushed in excitement – we had just spotted our first fireflies.

Image credit: Satoshi TAKEU

The boat continued its slow journey through the dark river. There was just enough light from the night sky to make out our own silhouettes. Near us, there were tiny twinkling marvels that nestled in the mangroves. Unfortunately, the boat sailed a distance from the mangroves and we could only see the fireflies from a distance away. Despite that, the sight was a beautiful one to behold.

Most of the fireflies congregated in bunches in the shrubbery, illuminating the bushes with their white lights. One might even mistake them for decorative lights if not for the fireflies that broke off from the group and came fluttering above the waters near the boat. At one point, there was some excitement when a firefly landed aboard the boat, but it soon flew away. 

firefly valley leisure park kota tinggi

Image credit: Matt MacGillivray

The boat’s speakers buzzed to life as the audio guides were played for us, first in Mandarin and then in English. It told us that the fireflies we saw were just one of about 2,000 species. They are called the swamp firefly because they lived and thrived on certain swamp flora. The frequency of their twinkling helped to differentiate the genders, with the male beating more frequently per second compared to the female firefly.

Later, we stopped by a clearing in the mangroves, and a light from the boat illuminated a stone structure deep in the mangroves. The boat’s speakers played again, telling us that it was a World War II fortress built by the British in defence against the Japanese in the event that they attacked Malaysia from Singapore. However, since the Japanese arrived from Thailand, the fort was abandoned and had not been used.

The boat then continued down the river, this time playing an old Mandarin song about fireflies. As the boat cruised slowly in the dark, moving past group after group of fireflies in the darkness, not a hint of the city could be seen. It was as if we were transported back to simpler times. I contemplated how much modern life has taken in exchange for what it has given, and that such natural beauty would soon be even more of a rare sight that it was right now. I wondered if there were many more fireflies in the past, and I pictured what it would have been like to be enveloped in the fireflies’ cumulative bright light.

firefly valley leisure park kota tinggi

Image credit: xenmate

The boat soon circled back, travelling along the same side of the river. I tilted my head up and out of the boat, hoping to catch a glimpse of some stars but it was too cloudy to spot more than just a few of them.

As the jetty slowly came into view, we left behind the small flickers of the fireflies and returned to the bright lights of the temple. The entire boat ride had lasted about 45 minutes, but time seemed to have passed too quickly. The boat docked and we got off, leaving behind our life vests as we headed back to the farm.

My visit to this firefly park was a refreshing experience that I’d remember and cherish always. I can only hope that the firefly population would not blink out and that our future generations can also enjoy such rare sightings that will take them down memory lane.

About Author

Gabriel Oh
Gabriel Oh

A lover of words and their intrinsic value, Gabriel enjoys a good book as much as he does writing a good story. While he dabbles in illustration and photography, he just wishes that they would love him back as much. Gabriel has a deep-rooted interest in Japanese culture and language, eventually venturing to the Land of the Rising Sun for the first time in 2016. Having made many wonderful memories there, he now hopes to share what he has so that others can learn from his stories and eventually make their own.

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