Booked this tour a week or so before the date. Communication was very good and the driver/tour ‘guide’ got in contact via WhatsApp 2-3 days in advance to introduce himself which was appreciated. There was an extra charge because we were staying in a hotel outside the city centre but it wasn’t extortionate (approx $50usd for pick up and drop off). I wish that they’d made it clear that they’d need this payment in local currency in cash on the day as we didn’t have that amount of cash with us and had to get the driver to stop at an ATM so we could get money out.
First stop was the elephant sanctuary which was a 2 hour drive out of the city - NOT the Batu caves as per the tour description. The Sanctuary itself was really good, we had plenty of time to feed the elephants and the tour guide (not the driver) was excellent at explaining the work that the sanctuary does. You will need cash to buy food for the elephants if you want to feed them (approx $3 per bunch of bananas/bundle of sugar cane / bag of peanuts) and this is encouraged at least 2-3 times during the time we were there. REALLY enjoyed this part of the day the most and it’s well worth doing on its own if you don’t have a whole day to spare. There were plenty of hand washing stations and you were actively encouraged to wash your hands before and after any time you fed the elephants). The whole park was very clean and well laid out with plenty of space of the visitors - it didn’t feel crowded despite there being quite a lot of people there.
We then went to the deer land place 10 mins down the road and fed the deer (food was included) and we told to follow the path through the jungle to view the other birds and reptiles in cages. This was not very interesting and quite dirty. We probably spent about 20 mins there in total. Not worth going to in my opinion.
After that we drove approx 1.5 hours to the Batu caves …. After consulting google maps, we realised that this was only 20 minutes from our hotel so we’d just spent 2 hours driving out of the city and 1.5 hours driving back into the city. A total waste of time and we could have saved 2 hours just by switching the order of these 2 stops. The caves themselves are very impressive and lots of photo opportunities. There are 272 steps up to the top - it’s a long hot climb but we managed it with stops. There are more steps inside the caves but not as many. Very interesting and we managed to see part of a temple ceremony. Our driver gave us a lot of information about the significance of the caves and how to locals use the temple which was very interesting. We were given plenty of time to explore. You will need to have your shoulders and knees covered to go in the temple area and this is well communicated.
At this point, it was approx 4.30pm (having been picked up at 8.30am) and we were seriously debating about whether to do the last stop (fireflies) or go back to the hotel as we were only 20 mins away. We’d had this conversation with the driver via WhatsApp a couple of days before too and were convinced that the fireflies was only a 20 min experience and well worth doing. What we weren’t told was that it was another 1.5 hours drive out of the city, a 1.25 hour stop for dinner, then the 20-30 min firefly boat ride and then another 1.5 -2 hours drive back to our hotel. So the 20 min firefly trip added approx 5 hours onto our day. If we’d known this, we would not have gone to this part. The fireflies, whilst interesting, were not cultural or ‘wow’ and after a 12 hour day, we honestly couldn’t have cared less about them. We also got badly bitten by mosquitoes on the boat despite coating ourselves with mozzie repellant.
The silverleaf monkey section is nothing more than the driver taking you to a carpark where there are lots of monkeys running around. I mean, its cool to see them and they know that may tourists will bring food which the monkeys will vigorously snatch from you (including climbing up you if you don’t give it to them) but its not a tour or official park of any kind, its literally a carpark. We went there on the way to dinner before the fireflies. We didn’t know that we’d need food for the monkeys and there’s nowhere to buy food there so we didn’t get any close photos with the monkeys. Perhaps for the best as a couple of girls who did have food were screaming their heads off as a monkey climbed up their clothes to grab the food from their hands.
Lunch at the elephant sanctuary was basic (a small portion of chicken and rice plus a drink of your choice). Dinner was a Chinese restaurant local to the fireflies - one of our party didn’t eat seafood and the staff were accommodating to that and also another party were vegetarian which they also catered for. The food was very plentiful and delicious. Both lunch and dinner were included in our ticket price.
So to summarise, our driver was good (although no water or snacks were offered during the whole day in the car - one of the other drivers that we kept bumping into his group actually gave us some bottles of water), the elephants and Batu cave were great, and those things were definitely worth the money. The downside was the constant zig zagging in and out of the city for 2 hours each way when it could have been much better mapped out and resulted in a significantly shorter day. Wouldn’t have bothered with the fireflies and wouldn’t recommend that to anyone thinking of booking.