Monarch Sanctuaries

Tours are scheduled for Winter of 2025

OVERVIEW of Monarch Sanctuaries Package

Travel to Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserves

Follow the Monarch butterflies on their winter migration to the warm mountains of Mexíco where you’ll encounter millions of butterflies suspended on the limbs of Oyamel pine trees.  The world’s longest insect migration starts in September in Canada and the northern United States and the Monarchs start arriving in Mexico at the end of October in time for the holidays.  This winter excursion focuses on the phenomenon of the Monarch migration in Mexico where we make three visits to the sanctuaries at El Rosario and Sierra Chincua and learn about Mexican efforts to promote environmentally sound practices in the delicate ecosystem of the Sierra Madre. Apart from the educational aspect, we also provide time for fun and relaxation.  We’ll have the opportunity to meet local people, swim, sample delicious Mexican cooking and visit traditional sites in the state of Michoacán while being warmed by the Mexican sunshine. 

Monarch Odyssey tours focus on visiting butterfly sanctuaries in the states of Michoacán and México. We’ll stay in local towns to take advantage of cultural and natural attractions in the area, partaking of the flavors of Michoacán. We may adjust the itinerary depending on the climate conditions. The sanctuaries are located in the Sierra Madre mountains above 9000 feet above sea level, the weather varies from day to day and we are in contact with guides at each location to optimize our opportunity to see millions of Monarchs in flight.

ITINERARY

  • Day 1 – arrival to Morelia International Airport – spend the night in a nearby hotel.
  • Day 2 – Sierra Chincua Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve – spend the night in Tlalpujahua – Pueblo Magíco.
  • Day 3 – Tlalpujahua de Rayón and Dos Estrellas Gold and Silver Mine, Christmas Ornament Workshop, the Buried Church and more local experiences.
  • Day 4 – El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve – the worlds largest Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary.
  • Day 5 – Hotel Spa Agua Blanca – located in a tropical valley, we’ll enjoy the chance to swim in thermal pools, hike and see local sites.
  • Day 6 – We return to the Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve – On the final day we revisit one of the sanctuaries depending on the conditions where we have the best to chance to see the Monarchs in flight.
  • Day 7 – Return to the North from Morelia International Airport.

DATES, PRICES & INFORMATION

Trips cost $2100 US per person (double occupancy) our tours are limited to 10 participants! Your odyssey begins on Sunday and ends on Saturday from Morelia. Available Dates:

February 9th – 15th, 2025
To request more information and/or start the booking process send an email to conocejames@gmail.com or fill out the form below:

  • Transportation to and from Morelia International Airport (MLM)
  • All accommodations with breakfast each day
  • Admission Fees
  • Ground Transportation
  • All Guides
  • Airfare to Morelia International Airport (MLM).
  • Travel Insurance – Proof of travel insurance is required for all travelers.
  • Proof of Covid vaccination is required for all travelers.
  • Plan on spending approximately $300 per person on food, souvenirs, gifts and tips during the trip.
  • Single Occupancy is available for an additional $300 per person. If you’re a single traveler and want to be paired with a fellow traveler please let us know.

  • There are non-stop flights from Houston, Oakland, Chicago Midway, Los Angeles, Dallas, and Fresno
  • Non-stop flights are available on American, United and Volaris
  • Connecting flights are available through Mexico City and other locations
  • If you need help finding a flight let us know and we’ll assist you in finding the best flight from your destination

The Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserves that we visit are the principal Mexican migration stops for the entire population of Monarchs east of the Rocky Mountains. The number of Monarchs that return to Mexico is dependent on multiple factors during their life cycle; including climate, nectar sources, milkweed, and available habitat. The Monarchs are affected by the temperature and during cloudy/cool days will be seen roosting in the trees. As the day warms the butterflies begin to disperse in search of nectar and water. While we can’t guarantee that you’ll see thousands of insects filling the skies we do have the opportunity over the course of the week to see three locations that each have their specific attractions. We’ll be in contact with the guides at each sanctuary and may adjust our itinerary to be able to see the most active sites.

Meals include fresh vegetables and tropical fruit. Corn tortillas are served with most meals. Chicken and pork are the most common meats. Vegetarian options are usually available. There are many local specialties that you will be able to try. Michoacán is known for its sweets and open-air markets with local seasonal variations.

The weather is variable during this time of year. The Monarch sanctuaries are located around 10000 feet above sea level. As you arrive at high elevations however it will be cooler. Temperatures in January at the reserves are usually 60-70 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep in mind that the reserves are above 9000 ft above sea level. The hikes vary depending on the location and can take from 30 minutes to 1.5 hours depending on where the Monarch roosts are located. All locations have the option to ride horseback. Each horse is led by a guide, usually the owner. There is an additional cost if you choose to ride of approximately 200 pesos or 10$USD. We also recommend consulting your doctor about medications that help with altitude sickness if that is something you are prone to. Arriving early and spending time in Morelia at 6500 feet above sea level also helps to acclimate. If you’re interested in spending time in Morelia prior to this adventure let us know and we can assist.

Our suggestion is that you use a debit card once you are in Mexico to get Mexican Pesos from an ATM. Notify your bank that you’ll be traveling and make sure your pin is active. We’ll stop at an ATM at the airport. Most ATMs in Mexico allow you to choose your language. $6000 pesos should cover your costs for the week to cover the cost of meals and drinks. You’ll need more if you like to buy lots of souvenirs. Credit cards are not used in Mexico like they are in the United States.

James Binder is the leader of these trips. He is a bilingual American. He will provide translation during the trip. We have two guides who are from the area along with the driver. Adrian and Paty are a married couple and Adrian facilitates the trips. He opens doors and makes sure we have safe passage. His wife Paty usually acts as the sweep to keep us all moving forward and leads from behind to make sure we don’t leave anyone. They’ve been involved in these tours for more than 15 years. James lived in Mexico for two years where he became fluent in Spanish. You can read more about him on the homepage. Adrian Caballero and his wife Paty serve as our local guides. They have traveled extensively throughout this part of Mexico having grown up in the state of Michoacán and know and share many of the hidden gems they’ve found on their travels.

TESTIMONIALS

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Peggy Haas, Menominee Falls, WI

When my horse and I arrived at the mountaintop clearing at El Rosario Sanctuary and I saw thousands and thousands of Monarchs swirling around me, as though in an orange snow globe, my heart stopped. It’s a phenomenon unlike any I’ve ever witnessed. I wish everyone could have a chance to see this natural wonder.

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Gayle Jones, Madison, WI

These tours take you to the real Mexico. Everyone is kind, friendly, and welcoming – even if you don’t speak Spanish! The area is very rich in history and culture, and Mexicans are eager to share that with us. The food is wonderful! You can appreciate beautiful natural vistas and impressive architecture. I found some kind of pleasant surprise every day of the trip.

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John Simmons, New York, NY

I’ve gone on two Conocer /Odyssey trips and both were very well organized.   The Mexican guides did everything imaginable to make the trip enjoyable and comfortable.  They know the regions geography, history and culture very well because they’ve lived it. They are eager to share it with visitors.

VIDEOS

Thousands of Monarch Butterflies drinking from a puddle at the Monarch Reserve at el Rosario in February of 2022

Monarch Butterly Biosphere Reserve

Monarch Butterflies swarm in all directions just outside the sanctuary at El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve in central México in February of 2022

Monarch Butterfly Sanctuary at El Rosario in Michoacán, Mexico

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