Discover Morelia and witness the natural phenomenon of the Monarch Butterfly migration while also getting to visit several charming nearby towns.
Every winter, millions and perhaps over a billion monarch butterflies arrive in the forests of Michoacán. Although it is unclear how these magnificent creatures find their way to unseen but somehow favored patches of rural Mexico, these spectacular gatherings have generated tremendous interest from ecologists, naturalists and conservationists the world over. The journey detailed below affords travelers the extraordinary experiences of joining the Monarchs at Mexico´s butterfly reserves, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and additionally of learning about a variety of historical and cultural features that are unique to the region. As the sun illuminates the millions of orange and black wings, you’ll quickly understand why this is a trip of a lifetime.
Explore beautiful Morelia and Patzcuaro cities, venture to outlying areas, and witness the work of local artisans and pre-Hispanic engineers. Patzcuaro is a cultural and artisan center for the State of Michoacan that is sure to take your breath away. Beyond the protected butterfly forests, expert guides will help travelers gain insight into the complex character of Michoacán that may ultimately draw them back through the years ahead.
El Rosario Sanctuary – Be amazed by the wintering grounds home to millions of Monarch Butterflies
Butterfly Biosphere Reserves – Visit other butterfly sanctuaries to which millions of Monarchs migrate each year
Morelia – Tour Michoacan’s UNESCO World Heritage City and its beautifully maintained and restored colonial architecture
Patzcuaro – Visit this Magic Town, in the charming highlands of Michoacan and its lake district with surrounding artisan communities and local Purepecha communities with traditional food and customs
Santa Clara del Cobre – Discover the hidden charms in this Magical Town which has many copper workshops
Day 1: Arrival to Morelia
After you pass through customs at the Morelia International Airport, your guide will welcome you to one of Mexico’s most endearing urban centers, the capital of Michoacán. Relax before the next day’s travel onward to Rancho San Cayetano, gateway to the Monarch Biosphere Reserve. *Travelers may opt for a Mexico City Arrival
Day 2: Zitacuaro
After breakfast in Morelia, you will journey toward the rugged and verdant winter home of the brilliantly-colored Monarch Butterfly. Spend the night outside the reserve and prepare for two days of exploration among the migrating Monarchs.
Day 3: El Rosario Sanctuary
This morning your guide will drive you approximately 35 minutes to the first sanctuary. Upon arrival in El Rosario, you will leave the vehicle behind to walk a groomed but at times fairly steep trail into the oyamel fir tree forest favored by the butterflies. As you continue along the trail, note how the forest thickens toward on approach to the destination you share today with 60 million to more than a billion butterflies congregating in the forest after eight months and four generations of migration. The sun warms and lights their wings to reward visitors with a unique and remarkable display of light and color. Your expert guide will ensure that you experience this unparalleled and mysterious phenomenon as more than simply an extraordinary spectacle; we pause to discuss ecology, natural history and conservation issues in the sanctuary.
Day 4: Butterfly Biosphere Reserves
After breakfast this morning, you will board your private vehicle for a visit to another butterfly biosphere reserve (reserves are selected based on butterfly concentration and are therefore subject to change). In many locations, you will have the option to ride horseback (or walk if you prefer) to reach the point where you can view phenomenal butterfly gatherings. In the quiet of the forest, you can hear the beating wings of these delicate creatures. Enjoy a picnic lunch in a nearby forested location. After lunch, you may decide to return into the reserve or explore another depending on local conditions.
Day 5: Morelia and Patzcuaro
Today, you will depart from the butterfly gateway of Zitacuaro and head toward the cultural and artisan center of Pátzcuaro, a Mexican Magic Town. En route, you will have an opportunity to visit Morelia and take a half-day tour of the city, visiting the central square and seeing masterfully restored 17th and 18th century colonial mansions before continuing to Pátzcuaro, your home base for the next three nights.
Day 6: Tzintzuntzan and Santa Clara del Cobre
Today you will visit one of the lesser-visited archaeological zones in Mexico, the lakeside Tarascan site of Tzintzuntzan, to marvel at the unique oval-shaped Yácata temples. After lunch, travel to Santa Clara del Cobre, a Mexican Magic Town and former copper mining town where artisanal methods continue to thrive. You will observe copper-smithing and have the opportunity to see exquisitely crafted pieces that have gained local artists recognition as far away as New York, Paris and London.
Day 7: Departure from Morelia
After breakfast in Patzcuaro, your driver will meet you for a private transfer to the airport.
This trip can be customized for a private journey November through March.
Our custom-tailored journeys start from $800 USD per day for two travelers. Contact us today to discuss your travel desires and design a personalized proposal with exact pricing.
Please note, our pricing guideline is a starting from price and is not necessarily applicable to the suggested hotels contained within the suggested itineraries on this web site. Itineraries are customized prior to final pricing.