I have been to quite a few river cruises in search of fireflies before. While in Terengganu recently, it was also one of the activities we indulged in. Cruising through Sungai Chukai (Chukai River) / Sungai Yak Yah (Yak Yah River), I would say that I was more impressed by the fireflies colonies of Perak’s Kuala Sepetang. “Yak Yah” is an aboriginal word.

Sungai Yak Yah fireflies

Sungai Yak Yah firefly watching

However, our boatman Che Ghani Che Mohd. Nor, who is also the operator of the business here, said that what we experienced was only 50% of the peak season, as the evening was still quite bright. The best time of the day for firefly-watching is between 7.30pm and 9pm. Firefly-watching season is from May to July. Due to the reason that there is hardly any pollution, the firefly population here has been maintained over the years.

Sungai Yak Yah fireflies

operator-cum-boatman Che Ghani Che Mohd. Nor (in blue), giving a brief background story on the firefly sanctuary here

Che Ghani, who began operating the business here in 2001, proudly shared the fact that of the 14 fireflies sanctuaries in Malaysia, this one located along Yak Yah River has the highest clusters of fireflies in the country. While most areas have, the most, fifteen clusters of fireflies, this one recorded 28. This could be attributed to the three types of trees found here, including Pokok Berembang.

Sungai Yak Yah fireflies

heading out in search of fireflies

For two consecutive years in 2005 and 2006, this firefly sanctuary won second place in a tourism competition for Best Tourism Attraction Award in Malaysia. Four species of fireflies can be found in this area, whereby the majority is pteroptyx tener. Similar to butterflies, fireflies also have a lifespan of about ten days only.

Sungai Yak Yah fireflies

two boats tied together

Although the length of the fireflies sanctuary is 10km along this river, visitors will only be taken on a boat ride for a total of 30 to 45 minutes. That’s only a distance of less than a kilometre. Those interested in firefly-watching along Sungai Yak Yah should contact Che Ghani directly at 019-9174012. He owns two boats that can accommodate some twenty passengers at a go. Fare for an adult is RM25 while it is RM15 for a child.

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