Monarch Sanctuaries

Starting in December of 2020 through March of 2021

OVERVIEW of Monarch Sanctuaries Package

Travel to Mexico’s Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserves

Encounter millions of butterflies suspended on the limbs of oyamel pine trees. Experience the magnificent biodiversity unique to our hemisphere deep in the mountains of Mexico . Join the Monarchs. Escape the winter cold. This winter excursion is designed to focus on the phenomenon of North America’s migratory Monarch butterflies. Three full days are set aside to visit three different sanctuaries and learn about Mexican efforts to promote environmentally-sound economic practices in the delicate ecosystem of the Sierra Madre. Besides being educational, we want this trip to be fun as well. That’s why we’ve included time to meet local people, swim, sample delicious Mexican cooking, time to and visit traditional sites of Michoacán while being warmed by the Mexican sunshine. Join us on this late-winter adventure. Follow the butterflies to the warm mountains of Mexico.


All Monarch Odyssey tours will include visits to three butterfly sanctuaries. We’ll stay in local towns to take advantage of cultural and natural attractions in the area, partaking of the flavors of Michoacán. We travel from the mountains to a tropical valley.

  • Sierra Chincua Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
  • Tlalpujahua de Rayón and Dos Estrellas Gold and Silver Mine
  • El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
  • Hotel Spa Agua Blanca
  • Cerro Pelon Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
  • Hacienda de la Condesa Miravalle

Groups are limited to 10 participants

Sanctuary tours are $1450 (double occupancy) and include Transportation, Accommodations and Guides.

20% discount if booked before October 1st, 2020

See calendar for available dates


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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.


See the calendar for

Various dates from December 2020 through March of 2021

  • Transportation to and from Morelia International Airport (MLM)
  • All accommodations
  • Admission Fees
  • Ground Transportation
  • All Guides
  • Airfare to Morelia International Airport (MLM)
  • Travel Insurance – Proof of travel insurance is required for all travelers.
  • Meals
    • Plan on spending approximately $300 on food, souvenirs, gifts and tips during the trip.
  • Single Occupancy
    • There is an additional $200 fee per person.

  • 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 cool days will be seen roosting in the trees. As the day warms the butterflies begin to disperse in search of nectar. 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.

Day 1 – Arrival to Morelia – Homestay with a local family in Zinapecuaro

Day 2 – Atzimba Water Park – Picnic provided by the host families. Homestay

Day 3 – Sierra Chincua Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve and spend the night in Tlalpujahua Pueblo Magico

Day 4 – Tlalpujahua – Dos Estrellas Mine Museum, Ruins of El Carmen church, Christmas ornament workshop, local Carnaval festival

Day 5- El Rosario Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve – to Agua Blanca

Day 6 – Agua Blanca Hotel and Spa – we’ll take a day trip to the ruins of San Felipe Alzati and the Mariposario Papalotzin in Zitacuaro.

Day 7 – Cerro Pelon Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve – spend the night in Morelia at Casa Suites hotel

Day 8 – Morelia City Tour

Day 9 – Morelia – Free day in Morelia or alternative trips to the markets. Celebration for the last day including dinner at Hotel Soledad and fireworks outside the cathedral.

Day 10 – Departure

Keep in mind that the reserves are above 7000 ft above sea level. The hikes vary depending on the location and can take from 30 minutes to 3 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. At Cerro Pelon it is recommended that you take a horse up the steep trail and then walk down to enjoy quiet time in the forest.

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.