Mexico’s Monarch Butterflies and Magical Cities (February 16-20, 2021)

Monarch Butterflies in Mexico - Stock

Every 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”.

DAY 1 (Tues, February 16): Arrival to Mexico City ~ Upon arrival to Mexico City, you’ll be met by your local guide for the transfer to your hotel. Enjoy an evening walking tour of Alameda Central and Paseo de la Reforma and meet fellow travelers during your welcome dinner. For those arriving by early afternoon, an optional tour of Chapultepec Castle is available.

Accommodations: Holiday Inn Express – Reforma

Meals: Dinner

Estimated Drive Time Today: 45 mins to 1 hr from airport to hotel (depending on traffic.).

DAY 2 (Wed, February 17): 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. 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, you’ll experience it first-hand.

Continue to nearby Valle de Bravo, one of Mexico’s Pueblos Magico (“Magical Towns”) located less than 45 minutes from the sanctuary.  Valle’s narrow, cobble-stoned streets and colonial-style buildings along the shores of Laguna de Avandaro are perfect for exploring. Your hotel for the next two nights is conveniently located just a few blocks from the main plaza.

Accommodations: Meson de Leyendas or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated Drive Times Today: 2.5 hrs to Piedra Herrada; 20 mins to restaurant for lunch; 40 mins to Valle de Bravo.

DAY 3 (Thurs, February 18): 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 again the group will travel by horseback and on foot to the butterfly congregation sites.  After time to fully enjoy the spectacle of butterflies, head back to Valle de Bravo.

Accommodations: Meson de Leyendas or similar

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated Drive Times Today: 2 hrs to El Capulin (each way).

DAY 4 (Fri, February 19): Valle de Bravo/ Mexico City ~ Morning departure for Mexico City.  This afternoon, enjoy a guided tour of the Cathedral and Templo Mayor in Mexico City’s iconic Zocalo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.   For those interested, an optional tour of the National Palace and Diego Rivera’s murals is available after the Zocalo tour.  Recap trip highlights during your Farewell Dinner this evening.

Accommodations: Zocalo Central

Meals: Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

Estimated Drive Time Today: 2 hrs to Mexico City.

DAY 5 (Sat, February 20): Mexico City/ Departure ~ Transfer to the airport in time for your flight home.

Meals: Breakfast

Estimated Drive Time Today: 30-45 mins to airport (depending on traffic).


Price: $2250* per person based on double occupancy room (two people sharing a room).  Supplement for private, single occupancy room: $310* 

Pricing includes accommodations, private transportation with driver, full-time local bilingual guide, full-time trip host from Butterfly Pavilion, local guides at monarch reserves, horseback rental at monarch reserves, entrance fees, all meals starting with dinner on Day 1 and ending with breakfast on Day 5, and gratuities at meals and monarch reserves.

Exclusions: international airfare, passport/visa fees, travel insurance, optional activities, taxis, optional gratuities, and personal expenses.

Group size: 8-10 participants + Butterfly Pavilion host + local Trip Leader.