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two shoes Fireflies watching

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This tour is suitable for children of age 4 and up.

Fireflies are small insects that produce light in the dark. Their abdomens light up in a greenish yellow light, making them easy to spot in the dark. Their flashing lights are rather spectacular, and can be remarkably bright, lighting up their immediate surroundings when sitting on a branch.

Firefly

In Hong Kong there are about 20 species of fireflies, many which can be found in Tai Po Kau. Another key habitat for fireflies is the mangrove areas, as can be found at Mai Po in Yuen Long. In general fireflies like a wet, watery environment with trees and lots of rotting wood. This describes the area of Tai Po Kau perfectly, which is why there are so many of these fireflies there.

The main season for fireflies runs from March until November, with May to August the high season. Different species shine their lights in different periods, depending on their life cycles.

Firefly larva

As it is really hard to make photos in the dark, the best I can give you for an impression of how it looks is this YouTube video:

This you really have to go see for yourself, photos don't do it justice. And it's too dark for proper photos anyway!

On the way out we'll walk by a stone wall, which is home to a large number of scorpions. These little critters can be found easily by shining a UV light on them, as their outer shell is strongly fluorescent. They shine up brightly against the dark rocks; when shining a white light on them they're almost impossible to see, that's how good their camouflage is! The effects of the UV light does make the colours look a bit creepy... the real colour of the scorpion is dark brown.

Scorpion

Itinerary

  • 18:30 meet up at Tai Po Market MTR station.
  • Green minibus (care $6.5 - not included) to the entrance of the nature reserve (takes 10-15 minutes).
  • The start of the route is steep up - hear how the sounds of the forest change as darkness sets in! Sunset is around 19:00, fireflies become active about 20 minutes past sunset when it is dark enough for them.
  • Walk around the nature reserve, following the river to look at the fireflies.
  • About 22:00 finish at the exit of Tai Po Kau nature reserve.

This is a mostly easy going walk of about 5 km, with limited height differences (total about 150m), partly paved, mostly forest trails.

Fee for this tour: HKD 150 per person, HKD 110 children 3-12.

Bring mosquito repellent and a bottle of water. Red torch (better than white light for fireflies watching) is provided.

From the end point, you may take KMB routes 72, 72A, 73A and 74A, GMB route 28K (Tai Po Market MTR - Fo Tan MTR - Sha Tin), or red minibuses Mong Kok or Wan Chai/Causeway Bay.

If you want to drive, you best go directly to the entrance of Tai Po Kau Nature Reserve and park your car there, the rest of the group will arrive there normally shortly before 19:00. Please let me know beforehand if you want to use this option so I know you're waiting there for us.

A few notes for participants:

  • If taking young children, make sure they have been out in the woods several times. I've had families with 4-5yo children doing this as their very first hike drop out as the dark forest was too scary for their kids. On the other hand I've had 3-4yo children which had been hiking several times before have no problem with this walk.
  • If you want to bring your 3-4yo, but are not sure if he can make it, go walk with him in the country parks during the day regularly and join next year. You'll enjoy it much more.
  • This are mostly forest trails, which means uneven terrain not suitable for strollers.
  • If you expect to have to carry children, bring a back carrier or sling.
  • Wear proper walking shoes - flip flops are not suitable for forest walks.
  • Don't join if you're in the later months of pregnancy.

Show map.