Magical Mexico with Denver Botanic Gardens

January 25-31, 2025

Magical Mexico: Mexico City, Monarch Butterflies, and Valle de Bravo

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. When masses of butterflies are in flight, it sounds like rain falling. Their cumulative weight can even bend branches of towering oyamel fir trees.

In addition to spending two days at monarch butterfly sanctuaries, travelers will also explore vibrant Mexico City known for its thriving art scene, charming neighborhoods, world-class gastronomy, and its unique blend of old and new.

Collaboration trip with Denver Botanic Gardens hosted by Yvonne Garcia Bardwell, Associate Director of Community Relations.

About Your Host: Born and raised in South Texas, with a bilingual-bicultural background, Yvonne Garcia Bardwell brings a great mixture of experiences and knowledge to the tour. As the Associate Director of Community Relations at Denver Botanic Gardens, she is responsible for diversifying the Gardens’ constituency by establishing and strengthening relationships with community organizations across the Denver metro area. Since 2011, she has orchestrated Denver Botanic Gardens’ observance of Día de los Muertos – a celebration that has grown into a vibrant annual event celebrating one of Mexico’s greatest cultural legacies. Her multicultural orientation has developed through not only extensive world travel but also significant work and volunteer experiences as well as an academic focus on international and Spanish-language marketing. This tour offers an opportunity to educate and inspire, to create a connection to our past, and to learn about the cultural traditions of Mexico.


Day 1 (Sat, Jan 25): Arrival to Mexico City ~ Upon arrival to Mexico City, we’ll be met for our transfer to Hotel Habita in the Polanco district, our home for the next three nights.
Accommodations: Habita Hotel or similar
Meals: None
Day 2 (Sun, Jan 26): Mexico City Museums ~ Morning guided tour at Mexico City’s National Museum of Anthropology, home to the world’s largest collection of ancient Mexican art, as well as ethnographic exhibits about Mexico’s present-day indigenous groups. We’ll enjoy a Welcome Lunch at Lismoneros, a gastronomic highlight in Centro Historico. Our Mexico City art day continues with a visit to Palacio Bellas Artes, known for its impressive Art Nouveau and Art Deco architecture and the Diego Rivera Mural Museum.
Accommodations: Habita Hotel or similar
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
Day 3 (Mon, Jan 27): Teotihuacan ~ Our day begins before dawn as we make our way to Teotihuacan, the ancient Mesoamerican city steeped in history and mystery. We’ll drift gently above the colossal pyramids in a hot air balloon, revealing the grandeur of this UNESCO World Heritage Site from above. With the rising sun casting a golden hue upon the ruins, this is sure to be an awe-inspiring experience. We’ll explore Teotihuacan on foot before making our way back to Mexico City. There’s time this afternoon to relax before dinner at Entremar Polanco.
Accommodations: Habita Hotel or similar
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Cluster of monarch butterflies at sanctuary in Mexico
Day 4 (Tues, Jan 28): Mexico City to Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary and Valle de Bravo ~ After breakfast at the hotel, we’ll depart to Piedra Herrada Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary, the easiest monarch sanctuary to access from Mexico City. 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 with millions of orange and black monarch butterflies overhead is a magical sight. Today, you’ll experience it first-hand. Our day ends at Hotel Avandaro, a resort nestled in the hills of Valle de Bravo and our home for the next two nights.
Accommodations: Hotel Avandaro
Meals: Breakfast and Lunch
Monarch Butterfly
Day 5 (Wed, Jan 29) ~ Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and Valle de Bravo ~ No two days at the monarch sanctuaries are alike so we’ll enjoy another visit today. The location of our visit will be determined by recent sightings and access. This afternoon, we’ll enjoy a walking tour of Valle de Bravo, a picturesque Pueblo Magico (Magical Town) and a lakeside haven of peace and beauty with colonial architecture and narrow cobblestone streets.
Accommodations: Hotel Avandaro
Meals: Breakfast and Dinner
Day 6 (Thurs, Jan 30): Valle de Bravo to Mexico City ~ We’ll make our way back to Mexico City in time for our folk art workshop with acclaimed Mexico City contemporary artists Ruben Mica and Oscar Becerra. In 2021, Becerra and Mica exhibited “Alebrijes Iluminados” at Denver Botanic Gardens. Their work is exhibited worldwide and in prestigious institutions such as the Museum of Popular Art in Mexico City. Relive trip highlights this evening during our Farewell Dinner.
Accommodations: CondesaDF or similar
Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner
Day 7 (Fri, Jan 31): Departure ~ Transfer back to the airport in time for your flight home.
Meals: Breakfast


Price: $4815* per person based on two people sharing double occupancy accommodations. If you prefer private, single occupancy accommodations, add $1045**.

Includes: accommodations, airport transfers on arrival and departure days, private transportation on Days 2-6, bilingual trip leader, host from Denver Botanic Gardens (Yvonne Garcia Bardwell), meals as listed, activities and entrance fees as listed, horse + ejido horse assistant at butterfly sanctuaries when applicable, and basic $0 trip cost travel insurance. Pre-departure cancellation benefits can be added to the basic insurance policy for an additional cost.

Excludes: flights (we will assist with flight arrangements), passport fees, room upgrades, optional travel insurance policy with pre-trip cancellation and interruption benefits, optional activities, optional gratuities for hotel staff, and personal expenses.

*Price is based on payment by check. Credit card fees, if applicable, will be assessed at time of payment based on card used.

**If you are a solo traveler that prefers to share a double occupancy room, we will try to pair you with another traveler. If we can’t find a suitable roommate for you, the private room surcharge will apply.

Group Size: Min 7, Max 11 + DBG Host + Trip Leader

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.

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

Important Information: Itinerary has been built to allow flexibility to accommodate activities and sightseeing. Butterfly sanctuary visits will be finalized closer to travel dates based on recent sightings. Every effort will be made to carry out all activities as planned and advertised, however, trip leaders reserve the right to make alterations, deletions, or modifications to the itinerary deemed necessary due to circumstances beyond their control.

Reserve Your Spot Now!
by Sheridan March 27, 2024