2017-2018 Season: From November 15, 2017-March 1, 2018
Embark on a journey to learn about and witness one of nature’s wonders–the monarch butterfly migration. Here, in the fir trees of Michoacan at between 8,000-12,000 feet, the monarch butterflies take rest for the winter months after flying over 3,000 miles. Here, they cluster in groups on the fir trees to stay warm. During the day, they enjoy the sunshine and can be seen flying in massive groups. In addition to seeing this display of nature, our trip includes a fascinating guided tour of Morelia, a colonial gem, and we travel to the shores of Lake Patzcuaro to learn about the ancient and present day Purepecha people. Arts and crafts abound in this region. This trip is available anytime within the monarch migration season beginning November 15 and ending March 1.
Day 1: Arrive Mexico City, where you’ll be met and transferred to your charming hotel. You will enjoy a welcome dinner in a Mexico City favorite restaurant! Overnight in Mexico City (D)
Day 2: Transfer to Zitacuaro, Michoacan. Today you will visit with Mazahua communities and artisans in the region, in towns such as Cresencio Morales. Few people make this visit, but it is one of the most special, as it links the monarch migration phenomenon to the Mazahua people who live in this region. The Mazahua women are master weavers and embroiderers, who embroider the monarch imagery into their lovely pieces. Overnight in Ocampo (B, L, D)
Day 3: Angangueo, Today you embark on a journey to witness one of the Western Hemisphere’s great natural wonders: the winter home of the monarch butterflies. At El Rosario, you’ll see where these magnificent insects migrate to each year, in the transvolcanic mountains of central Mexico. It wasn’t until 1975 that the scientific community finally tracked down the wintering sites of the monarchs in Mexico. Until then, the butterflies’ winter hideouts had been a secret known only to local villagers and landowners. The unique conditions for survival are found in oyamel fir forests, which are located in a very small area of mountain tops in central Mexico. Overnight in Ocampo. (B, D)
Day 4: Today, you will visit a second monarch sanctuary, Sierra Chincua to visit with these amazing creatures one more time, before departing to Morelia. Sierra Chincua also has some fun eateries, where you can sit and enjoy a small bite, while taking in the mountian air. Arriving in Morelia, you’ll settle into your charming hotel to rest and relax, before going to dinner at a favorite restaurant. Overnight in Morelia (B, D)
Day 5: Explore Morelia! Today after breakfast at the hotel, you will enjoy a wonderful guided walking tour of Morelia, the capital of Michoacan and a colonial gem! Morelia is a conservative city with deep traditions in higher education, music and the arts. Highlights include: The Government Palace and Alfredo Zalce Murals, Palace of Justice, Cathedral, Temple of the Roses, the former Aqueduct, and the outstanding House of “Artesanias”. Overnight Morelia (B, L)
Day 6: Today, you travel to the charming town of Patzcuaro, known for its charming cobblestone streets, ancient architecture, and home to crafts from the Purepecha communities surrounding Lake Patzcuaro. You will explore the highlights of this community, including the main plazas, churches and an important library. Lunch is at a local favorite! Your Evening is at leisure. (B, L)
Day 7: Tzintzuntzan and Santa Fe de La Laguna After breakfast, you’ll travel to the lakeside ruins of the Prehispanic Purepecha empire in Tzintzuntzan. Little is known about the early Purepecha people, but it is believed that they are descendants of peoples from northwestern Mexico, known as the Chichimecas. You’ll spend time visiting the present day village and artisans of Tzintzuntzan. From here, you travel to the first community founded in the region, by Vasco de Quiroga: Santa Fe de la Laguna. Here, you’ll explore the temple and “hospital” community center of this small town that looks like it stopped in time. You will enjoy a lunch of regional cuisine, prepared by one of the great regional cooks of Michoacan. After late lunch “comida”, you will return to Morelia for an evening at leisure.(B, L)
Day 8: Today you will transfer to the Morelia airport (MLM) for your return flight home. Or, you can extend a few days to continue enjoying beautiful Morelia! (B)
Note: This tour is designed beginning in Mexico City (MEX) and ending in Morelia (MLM). We are able to customize this trip to include Mexico City, or to stay longer in certain regions, depending on your time, interests and travel preferences.