Monarch Butterflies and Magical Cities

monarch butterfly guided tours mexico reefs to rockiesEvery winter, the cloud forests in the mountains of central Mexico play host to millions and millions of over-wintering monarch butterflies. This aggregation of monarchs in Mexico’s central highlands remains one of the most impressive wildlife spectacles on the planet. When masses of butterflies are in flight, it sounds like rain falling and their cumulative weight can bend branches of oyamel firs. In addition to visiting two butterfly sanctuaries in the state of Mexico, travelers will also visit vibrant Mexico City and colonial Valle de Bravo, one of Mexico’s “Magical Towns”.

Scheduled group departure: February 22-26, 2017.

Itinerary


DAY 1: Arrival to Mexico City~ Upon arrival to Mexico City, you’ll be met for the transfer to your hotel. Overnight at Camino Real – Airport or similar. (http://www.caminoreal.com/destinations/airport) (D)

monarch butterfly guided tour in Mexico Reefs to Rockies

DAY 2: Mexico City/ Piedra Herrada Monarch Sanctuary/ Valle de Bravo ~ After breakfast at the hotel, depart to Piedra Herrada Monarch Reserve, the easiest monarch sanctuary to access from Mexico City. Often, visitors to Piedra Herrada encounter swarms of monarchs before even arriving to the sanctuary. Hike uphill to the heart of the sanctuary to witness massive aggregations of monarchs. Standing in the forests of the reserve as millions of orange and black monarch butterflies swarm overhead is a magical sight and today, you’ll experience it first-hand.

Continue on to nearby Valle de Bravo, one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magico (“Magical Towns”) located less than 30 minutes from the sanctuary. You’ll have time this afternoon to explore Valle on your own. Its narrow, cobble-stoned streets and colonial-style buildings along the shores of Laguna de Avandaro are perfect for exploring and your hotel for the next two nights is conveniently located just a few blocks from the main plaza. Overnight at Meson de Leyendas. (http://mesondeleyendas.com/) (B,L,D)

Valle de Bravo, Mexico

DAY 3: Valle de Bravo/ El Capulin Monarch Sanctuary ~ Today brings a visit to El Capulin, a second monarch sanctuary in Mexico State. El Capulin receives far less visitors than Piedra Herrada and offers a much wilder feel. The trails here are more rugged so the group will travel by horseback to the butterfly congregation sites. After time to fully enjoy the spectacle of butterflies and lunch at a typical fondita, head back to Valle de Bravo. Dinner this evening will be at the best Italian restaurant in town, a gastronomic icon for the last 30 years. Overnight at Meson de Leyendas. (B,L,D)

monarch butterfly guided tour Mexico Reefs to Rockies

DAY 4: Valle de Bravo/ Metepec/ Mexico City ~ After a leisurely morning in Valle de Bravo, start making your way back to Mexico City. En route, stop at Metepec to learn how local artisans create “tree of life” sculptures out of clay. Late afternoon return to Mexico City in time for dinner. Your hotel this evening is located only a block away from Mexico City’s iconic Zocalo and Historic Center, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. (http://www.centralhoteles.com/historico/default-en.html) (B,L,D)

Reefs to Rockies Mexico City guided tours

DAY 5: Mexico City/ Departure ~ Morning walking tour of popular Zocalo sites including the Cathedral (the largest on the continent), Mayor Temple Museum (where you can clearly see the remains of the Aztec civilization upon which the Spaniards built the city in the 16th century), and the National Palace to see Diego Rivera’s impressive mural paintings. Transfer to the airport in time for your flight home. (B)


DETAILS

Meals: B=Breakfast; L=Lunch; D=Dinner

Price: $2045* per person (double occupancy); $350* single supplement.

Pricing includes accommodations, private transfers and tours, full-time local bilingual biologist guides, full-time trip host, local guides at monarch reserves, horseback rental at monarch reserves, entrance fees, and all meals starting with dinner on Day 1 and ending with breakfast on Day 5.

Exclusions: international airfare, alcohol, passport/visa fees, checked baggage fees, travel insurance, optional activities, taxis, gratuities for local guides and driver, and personal expenses.