One of the trips you can organise from the Rasa Ria resort is the fireflies boat trip which is absolutely a must. Check before you book / go though because the fireflies cannot be seen if it is raining or if it is a full moon or if it is very windy. The booking staff will actually give you a call in your room about an hour before your departure time to confirm that the trip is going ahead or if has been cancelled due to adverse weather. They also ask previous tours if they saw the fireflies and how many, so you can get a good idea before you go.
My understanding is that if you go at the right time, the trees completely light up. We went a couple of days after the full moon, but still saw enough of the fireflies to make it an enjoyable trip.
Booking is simple; you go to the activities desk in the main reception of the resort and give them your room number. You will not be charged for the trip until you are ready to go, in case it is cancelled. They require that you are at the meeting point ten minutes before departure (which is about 7pm, every other night), although I’d recommend getting there a little before so you have enough time to pay. I’d also recommending booking a few days in advance as they only allow around 12 people per trip and it is quite popular.
After being picked up from the resort, you get a small mini bus to the jetty about ten minutes away. You go through a local village to get there, which in itself is quite interesting. The jetty is little more than a couple of planks of wood floating on some barrels and the traditional wooden boats are moored up here. It is all very dark so you will have to watch your step, but there are a couple of friendly guides to assist.
Initially I had some reservations about the boat as it stunk of petrol and didn’t seem particularly eager to start, but once I’d got over that, I thoroughly enjoyed the trip. The guide does an excellent job of describing the river, the surrounding mangroves and the habits of the fireflies. The boat remains completely unlit for optimum viewing, but the guide has a torch with which he searches out the fireflies. There are extremely pretty and look a lot like little fairy lights in a Christmas tree. They get the boat pretty close to the trees so you get a good look – but taking a picture is pretty much impossible unless you are a super professional! We ended up with lots of black screens. The guide uses a flashing red and blue light to attract the flies to the boat so you can get a good look at them and even hold one if you so wish.
In total, the trip lasts about an hour and a half, which is a perfect length of time to enjoy everything without it becoming tiresome. It costs about £5 per person, which I thought was excellent value. I would recommend that you wear sturdy shoes cover your arms and legs and take plenty of mosquito spray and a bottle of water, because you are sailing through the mangroves and it is warm.
All in all, an excellent trip that shouldn’t be missed!