For several weeks each year, the oyamel fir trees of Michoacan, Mexico, are transformed into a breathtaking backdrop for one of the most amazing natural phenomena in the world. As late October nears, millions of monarch butterfies suddenly descend upon the branches of Mexico’s spectacular forest reserve to rest amongst the evergreen needles.
To nearby observers, the forest appears to be enveloped by the gentle flitting of delicate reddish orange wings lined with black veins and white speckles. These majestic travelers are Monarch butterflies, an insect colony that must progress through a cycle of multiple generations of offspring before reaching its winter destination along the Mexican coast.
Migration of the Monarch Butterflies Trip
The arrival of the Monarch butterfly is a celebrated event for both locals and foreign visitors who are eager to witness the final stretch of a 5000-mile journey from North America. Journey Mexico welcomes travelers to share in this unforgettable moment with an exciting trip that takes you along the trails of the El Rosario reserve, an enchanting Monarch butterfly sanctuary where these beautiful creatures hibernate and lay thousands of eggs upon special milkweed leaves.
Led by an expert guide, you will travel into a towering grove of fir trees for an up-close look at the Monarch butterflies in their winter habitat. Our highly knowledgeable guides explain the unique cycle of migration Monarch butterflies undergo every year to ensure their survival, a journey that requires several generations of Monarchs to complete. The first three generations of Monarchs travel only a portion of the distance northward, eventually laying the eggs that will form a new colony just before they die out.
On this enlightening trip, visitors experience the final stages of migration as the fourth generation settles in the hibernation grounds. The temperate climate of Michoacan offers safety from moisture and cold, cover from predators and plentiful growth of milkweed. Fourth generation Monarchs, known as the Methuselah generation, have an extended life cycle up to seven or eight months, allowing them to make the journey south from late summer to early autumn and emerge for the mating process as spring arrives.
Enjoy the Natural Treasures of Michoacan, Mexico
The Monarch barely weighs one gram, and yet, its role as a pollinator has a profound effect on the eco-system. Your time amongst the Monarchs continues with a visit to another major sanctuary ground, the Sierra Chincua Reserve. Surrounded by clusters of exquisite Monarch butterflies, visitors get a firsthand glimpse at the epic life cycle of this insect civilization. Yet, no JourneyMexico excursion is complete without adventuring into the surrounding towns and municipalities.
The Michoacan region boasts a magnificent natural landscape, as well as astonishing historical landmarks. Travelers are sure to be captivated by the charming countryside, lush green valleys and sparkling lakes of the Patzcuaro, Tzintzuntzan, Ihuatzio and Cucuchuco areas. These towns still stand as thriving cultural centers where visitors can admire the fascinating crafts of skilled artisans and experience the magic of festivals that have been celebrated for generations. Close by are the archeological sites of ancient city squares that preserve a living history of Michoacan.
From the beautifully gripping drama of nature to the monuments of an evolving civilization, this once-in-a-lifetime trip offers a unique opportunity to immerse yourself deep in the culture and splendor of Mexico.