Wildlife Wonders of Mexico – Birds, Butterflies & More

January 19-26, 2025

Every winter, montane cloud forests in central Mexico host millions of over-wintering monarch butterflies. This aggregation of monarchs in Mexico’s central highlands ranks as one of the most impressive wildlife spectacles on the planet. It’s a must see for nature lovers!

The monarch sanctuaries aren’t the only highlights during our wildlife expedition to Mexico. In addition to two days at the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve west of Mexico City, we’ll explore wildlife hotspots in Oaxaca, a coastal state that has the highest biological diversity in Mexico. Oaxaca is home to almost 800 species of birds with close to 100 of them endemics. The butterfly list in Oaxaca is even longer. In case the birds and butterflies aren’t enough, we’ll even explore some of Oaxaca’s beaches famous for nesting sea turtles.We’ve timed this trip to maximize our chances for incredible wildlife sightings throughout.

Join Reefs to Rockies and Denver Audubon for this 8-day wildlife expedition highlighting Mexico’s natural and cultural wonders.

About Your Expedition Leader: Reefs to Rockies Co-Founder Sheridan Samano is thrilled to host this small group wildlife expedition to Mexico. If you’ve ever had the chance to hear Sheridan talk about Mexico, you’ve likely heard her refer to it as “the most underrated wildlife destination on the planet.”

During this trip, her love for her father’s home country will be unmistakable as she takes you into the heart of the region’s best biodiversity hotspots. Local expert guides will join us throughout making this immersive wildlife experience unforgettable.


Day 1 (Sun, Jan 19): Arrival to Mexico City ~ Upon arrival to Mexico City, we’ll be met by our local guide and transferred to our hotel conveniently located close to neighborhood parks and markets. Get to know fellow travelers this evening during our Welcome Dinner.

Accommodations: Circulo Condesa

Meals: Dinner

Cluster of monarch butterflies at sanctuary in MexicoDay 2 (Mon, Jan 20): Mexico City, Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary & Valle de Bravo ~ After a bird walk close to our hotel, we’ll head west to Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, the closest reserve to Mexico City. It’s possible we’ll be greeted by masses of monarchs in flight down the hillsides even before hitting the trail.

We’ll travel by horseback and on foot 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. Today, we’ll experience it first-hand. There’s also time for birding at Piedra Herrada before continuing to Valle de Bravo, one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos and our home for the next three nights. Our hotel offers excellent birding on site, too.

Accommodations: Hotel Misión Grand Valle de Bravo

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 3 (Tues, Jan 21): Valle de Bravo and Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve ~ No two days at the monarch sanctuaries are alike so we’ll enjoy a second visit today. In addition to time with the monarchs, we’ll explore on foot in search of birds. Exact locations today will be determined based on current monarch aggregation behavior and locations, weather, and recent sightings.

Accommodations: Hotel Misión Grand Valle de Bravo

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 4 (Wed, Jan 22): Valle de Bravo, Mexico City and Huatulco ~ After a final bird walk and breakfast at our hotel, we’ll make our way back to Mexico City in time for our early afternoon flight to Huatulco. There’s time to settle into our hotel before our turtle walk at nearby Playa La Bocana tonight.

Accommodations: Casa Bocana

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 5 (Thurs, Jan 23): Huatulco Pelagic Boat Trip ~ Today, we’ll explore Huatulco National Park and Biosphere Reserve by boat. In January, it’s possible to observe a variety of pelagic birds including Jaegers, Storm-Petrels and Shearwaters relatively close to shore. In addition to pelagics, we’ll also be looking for marine mammals and sea turtles. Huatulco’s beautiful bays and rocky coastline set the stage for a memorable day on the water.

Accommodations: Casa Bocana

Meals: Breakfast and Lunch

Day 6 (Fri, Jan 24): Huatulco ~ Our day begins with a birding tour at Sendero El Candelabro Copalita where we’ll be hosted by Cornelio, well known in Huatulco for his bird-guiding prowess. This is his property so he knows exactly where to go to find the birds. With any luck, we’ll catch a glimpse of local highlights including Northern Potoo, owls, trogons, and more. This evening, we’ll embark on a night hike and turtle walk at Huatulco National Park.

Accommodations: Casa Bocana

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 7 (Sat, Jan 25): Huatulco ~ This morning, we’ll embark on an enchanting jungle experience at Hagia Sofia, an agro-ecotourism farm. A warm welcome breakfast of freshly harvested seasonal fruits and traditional Oaxacan quesadillas awaits us. After breakfast, we’ll explore Hagia Sofia’s network of forest, garden and riverside trails that showcase an array of exotic flowers and fruit trees teeming with butterflies and birds. For those interested, we can enjoy a refreshing swim and natural hydro-massage at “La Compana” Waterfall. Relive trip highlights this evening during our Farewell Dinner.

Accommodations: Casa Bocana

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Day 8 (Sun, Jan 26): Departure ~ Transfer to Huatulco International Airport (HUX) in time for our flights home. Afternoon departure recommended.

Meals: Breakfast


Price: $4515* per person based on two people sharing double occupancy accommodations. If you prefer private, single occupancy accommodations, add $875*.

Inclusions: accommodations (Standard Room at Circulo Condesa; Grand Luxury at Misión Grand; Deluxe at Casa Bocana); airport transfers on arrival and departure days; in-country transportation; Expedition Leader – Sheridan Samano; local guides from community-based tourism projects; activities and entrance fees; meals as listed; gratuities for guides and drivers, and at restaurants for included meals; horse rental, if applicable at monarch sanctuaries; purified water available throughout. A donation to support local conservation efforts will be made on behalf of all participants.

Exclusions: flights (we will assist with flight recommendations); 1 dinner and 1 lunch; passport fees; room upgrades; personal expenses; optional gratuities for hotel staff; travel insurance.

*Reflects payment by check. Credit card fees will be assessed at time of booking based on payment method. If you are a solo traveler hoping to share a room, we’ll do our best to pair you. If we’re unable to find you a roommate, the private room supplement will apply.

Level of Difficulty: Participants must be prepared to ride a horse as well as hike over sometimes steep, rocky, uneven terrain at elevations between 9000-11,000 ft when visiting the monarch butterfly sanctuaries. This trip is designated as moderately difficult due to the monarch sanctuary visit days.

Group size: 7-11 participants + Expedition Leader. We are known for having smaller group sizes with a better participant to guide ratio than other companies offering similar itineraries.

A Note About Gratuities – Your trip cost includes gratuities for drivers and guides, as well as at restaurants for included meals. This allows us to reliably and equitably compensate everyone working so hard to keep you happy, healthy, and safe during your trip.

Reserve Your Spot Now!
by Sheridan March 17, 2024