It is very rare and exciting to witness something very different and a natural wonder on your holiday. And that’s what I did when I planned my visit to see Fireflies in Bhandardara Maharashtra and try my best to capture a beautiful insect, Firefly.
What is firefly
Firefly is an insect in the beetle family whose body produces bioluminescence during twilight. They are also known as lightning bug for their famous glow. Firefly produce light to attract mate or prey and they flash their light differently as per the species. There are limited places where one can see fireflies and are often found in the damp places.
Where you see fireflies in Maharashtra
In India, you can find fireflies in Maharashtra at Bhandardara. Bhandardara witness the dance of fireflies for two months between summer and start of monsoon.
How to reach Bhandardara
Bhandardara is located 110 km away from Mumbai, closer to Igatpuri. The closest airport is Mumbai and road journey from Mumbai will take around 5-6 hours.
When is the best time to visit Bhandardara
Bhandardara is year around destination due to its lush greenery and pleasant weather. Best time to see fireflies in Bhandardara is from May to June. The time may fluctuate based on the arrival of monsoon. Once the monsoon starts, it brings an end to fireflies.
Where to stay and where to go to see fireflies
The best part of Bhandardara is that there are many camps who promote not just camping experience but also visits to see fireflies. These camps are situated around the Bhandardara lake and offer stay with night walk to see the fireflies. Apart from the camps, there are hotels to stay from luxury to base category and hire guides to take you around to hunt for fireflies in Bhandardara.
We stayed in Wanderlust Resort which was on outskirt of Bhandardara.
Why and where to hire local guide
Local guide is helpful as finding fireflies on a street with headlight on is difficult. There are various spots around Bhandardara where you can catch them. You can hire local guide anywhere in Bhandardara, most of them are available at gate near Anandvan Hotel. Even hotels where you are staying can help you for hire a guide.
We hired a local person to take us around Bhandardara and show us fireflies.
Camera settings to catch fireflies
Honestly, I was unprepared to capture the fireflies as there is very little information available online to help you with the setting. I did some research before heading to Bhandardara and thankfully it helped me with some decent result for first time shooter. I also understood the difficulty one will face with the capture. Fireflies can be captured at a very low shutter speed and light iso. The focus was manual as it can have auto focus in a pitch dark. In post production, I stacked 20+ images to get the movement of fireflies around the tree as single image doesn’t have many fireflies.
I had to stack more as I did the trip when the population of firefly was less. In the prime time, you won’t have to stack many images. Also, selection of the images before stacking has to be careful as you can’t stack image which has light disruption.
What are other attractions in Bhandardara
Apart from fireflies, our guide took us around the city to visit Bhandardara Dam aka Wilson Dam. We viewed the dam from the top view point and also went closer to the dam water release point. The Bhandardara Dam is built on River Pravara and depending on the water requirement, they open the gates which creates 2 types of waterfall.
Apart from the dam, we also visited Lake Arthur around which many camps are situated. The city is surrounded by Sahyadri mountain range aka Western Ghat, which gives Bhandardara pleasant weather and good monsoon. In the vicinity is also located Maharashtra’s highest mountain, Kalsubai Peak and trekkers can opt for a morning trek on the mountain.
Do’s and Don’t for the trip to see fireflies
- Minimal usage of headlight: When you are travelling in dark in the area of fireflies, you won’t find them with high light of headlight. To see the glow of fireflies, we need less man made lights. People have stepped out of their car to see the fireflies but kept their headlight on, this way, neither you will see them nor others!
- Usage of Torch: Even you find the tree or place where fireflies are there, flashing torch on them will not make it glow more. The best way to see the dance of fireflies is to have darkness around.
- Clicking picture with flash: The most common mistake people do it clicking picture of firefly with flash. Flash light of mobile phone or camera will not help you capture firefly with their glow, it will only show you the insect (if clicked closer). Capturing fireflies in their natural state needs practice and homework. General camera without any special settling can never capture them in the light.
- Making Noise and commotion: We Indians are known for making noise and disruption when we go to see nature or even wildlife. Making noise in the darkness about seeing fireflies doesn’t make them appear in numbers or brighter. Better to keep your voices down and maintain a decorum as it is nature we are there to witness not concert.
- Enjoy the moment, don’t focus on capture: seeing fireflies flashing their glow and communicating with each other is something one should focus on witness rather than capturing. Give it your time and silence!
This is just a quick guide to help you plan your holiday and make most of it. Seeing fireflies in the dark with their glowing lights was magical and a lifetime memory to cherish. Let us ensure that such phenomena doesn’t die.
Here is your video guide.