Mexico’s Monarch Butterflies and Magical Cities w/ Butterfly Pavilion

January 20-25, 2025

Nestled within the picturesque montane fir forests of central Mexico lies the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve where millions of majestic monarch butterflies spend the winter. Every year, these forests become the stage for one of nature’s most spectacular wildlife spectacles. When masses of monarchs take flight, their wing beats sound like light rain falling. The cumulative weight of massive monarch clusters even bends branches of towering oyamel fir trees. At these sanctuaries, time seems to stand still, allowing visitors to immerse themselves in the serene beauty and tranquility of nature. Join Butterfly Pavilion and Reefs to Rockies for an unforgettable winter journey to Mexico’s magical monarch butterfly sanctuaries.

About Your Butterfly Pavilion Hosts

Richard Reading, Vice President of Science & Conservation ~ Richard Reading, Ph.D. is Vice President of Science & Conservation Butterfly Pavilion. He serves as an Adjunct Professor within the Department of Biology at the University of Denver; Affiliate Faculty with the Department of Agricultural Science and Pest Management at Colorado State University; and a Fellow with the University of Nebraska’s Center for Great Plains Studies. Dr. Reading received a Ph.D. and three Master’s degrees from Yale University in Wildlife Ecology and Human Dimensions of Wildlife and an Honorary Doctorate from the National Education University of Mongolia. In 2020, Rich was honored to receive the Order of the Polar Star, the highest honor from the Mongolian National Government for expatriates, for contributions to conservation. He has conducted or overseen projects in dozens of countries, working primarily on grassland and arid ecosystems on six continents, with a focus on the Great Plains of N. America, the steppes and deserts of Mongolia, the savannahs and deserts of Botswana, and the Altiplano of Peru. His work focuses on developing pragmatic, effective, and interdisciplinary approaches to the conservation of wildlife and protected areas through research, capacity development, and working with local people and governments. Dr. Reading serves on the boards of directors or advisors for several non-profit organizations in the U.S. and overseas; serves as an associate editor for 5 scientific journals; has published over 230 scientific papers and book chapters; written dozens of popular articles; and written or edited 8 books.

As of July 1, 2022, through 2026, Dr. Reading has joined the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Commission, responsible for perpetuating the wildlife resources of the state, providing a quality state parks system and providing enjoyable and sustainable outdoor recreation opportunities as a representative of the public at large. A main objective within his role is to help educate and inspire current and future generations to serve as active stewards of Colorado natural resources.

Shiran Hershcovich, Lepidopterist Manager at Butterfly Pavilion ~ Shiran Hershcovich is an entomologist from Panama City, Panama. She joined Butterfly Pavilion in 2021, where she curates the conservatory’s living collections of butterflies. She’s passionate about understanding and conserving invertebrates and currently works on local and international research and conservation initiatives like field assessments on vulnerable butterfly populations in Mongolia and the construction of a sustainable butterfly farm in Indonesia. She currently serves on the board of directors for the International Association of Butterfly Exhibitors and Suppliers (IABES). She believes in the power of community to increase accessibility and action in conservation and leads community science projects like the Colorado Butterfly Monitoring Network (CBMN) and Butterfly Quest, a lepidopteran longevity study in the Wings of the Tropics conservatory open to all Butterfly Pavilion guests.


Day 1 (Mon, Jan 20) Arrival ~ Upon arrival to Mexico City International Airport (MEX), you’ll be met for your transfer to your hotel.

Accommodations: Circulo Condesa

Meals: None

monarch butterflys flyingDay 2 (Tues, Jan 21): Mexico City to Angangueo ~ Get to know fellow travelers, your guide, and Butterfly Pavilion hosts during our Welcome Breakfast at Eno, Chef Enrique Olvera’s casual cafe. Olvera’s first restaurant project in Mexico City was the famed Pujol, consistently rated as one of the world’s best restaurants.

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve is a UNESCO World Heritage Site containing most of the overwintering sites of the eastern population of monarch butterflies. The reserve is located in pine-oak forests of the Trans-Mexico Volcanic Belt on the border of two Mexican states northwest of Mexico City – Michoacan and Mexico. Today, we’ll visit our first monarch sanctuary, likely Sierra Chincua. Be prepared to travel by horse and on foot to cluster sites at elevations between 9000-11,000 feet. The air is thin here and it takes some work, but your effort will be worth it! Our rustic accommodations tonight provide easy access to two monarch sanctuaries close by.

Accommodations: Hotel Alburgue Don Bruno

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Cluster of monarch butterflies at sanctuary in MexicoDay 3 (Wed, Jan 22): Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and Valle de Bravo ~ No two days at the monarch sanctuaries are alike so we’ll enjoy another sanctuary visit today. The location of our visit will be determined by recent sightings and butterfly cluster locations. After time with the monarchs, we’ll continue to Valle de Bravo, one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magicos (“Magical Towns”).

Accommodations: Hotel Misión Grand Valle de Bravo

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 4 (Thurs, Jan 23): Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and Velo de Novia Waterfall ~ Today brings a third monarch sanctuary, likely Piedra Herrada in the State of Mexico. This afternoon, we’ll enjoy a nature walk to Velo de Novia, a stunning waterfall that’s 115 feet tall. It takes its name from its resemblance to a wedding veil (“velo de novia”). The path to the waterfall is short but scenic. The birding here is also top notch.

Accommodations: Hotel Misión Grand Valle de Bravo

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 5 (Fri, Jan 24): Valle de Bravo to Mexico City ~ We’ll make our way back to Mexico City with a stop at Chapultepec, Latin America’s oldest and largest urban park. At Chapultepec Park’s Butterfly House, thousands of butterflies fly freely, much to the delight of visitors. A trip to this part of the zoo consists of two areas: a building displaying butterfly specimens and the actual insectarium. While inside the butterfly garden, you’ll see an incubator full of cocoons. A Nahuas legend says that if you make a wish on a butterfly on its first flight, your wish will come true. Relive trip highlights during this evening’s Farewell Dinner.

Accommodations: Hotel Habita

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner

Day 6 (Sat, Jan 25): Departure ~ Transfer to the airport in time for our flight home.

Meals: Breakfast


Price: $3745* per person based on double occupancy accommodations. Add $580* if you prefer private, single occupancy accommodations.

Includes: accommodations (two people sharing a room), airport transfers on arrival and departure day, private transportation Days 2-5, full-time local bilingual trip leader, 2 hosts from Butterfly Pavilion, local ejido guides at monarch sanctuaries, horseback rental at monarch sanctuaries – if applicable, entrance fees, meals starting with breakfast on Day 2 through breakfast on Day 6, basic $0 trip cost travel insurance policy, and gratuities (for guides, drivers, and at restaurants for included meals). A donation to support local monarch butterfly conservation efforts in Mexico will be made on behalf of all participants.

Excludes: flights, passport/visa fees, checked baggage fees, hotel upgrades, upgraded travel insurance with trip cancellation and interruption benefits (available at pro-rated cost), pre- and post- arrangements, optional gratuities for hotel staff, and personal expenses.

*Reflects payment by check or ACH. Credit card fees, if applicable will be assessed at time of booking.

**If you are a solo traveler that prefers to share a double occupancy room, but we aren’t able to find a suitable roommate for you, the private room surcharge will apply.

Group Size: 7-10 participants + Lead Guide + 2 Butterfly Pavilion Hosts. We are known for having smaller group sizes with a better participant to guide/host ratio than other companies offering similar itineraries.

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.

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.

Important Information: Itinerary has been built to allow flexibility to accommodate activities and sightseeing. 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 May 8, 2024