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.
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.
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.
- 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.