Looking for the monarch butterfly in Mexico

| Anke Hendriks

It's still early when I get out of bed and get ready for breakfast. It's cold. The watery sun is halfway in the blue sky and it promises to be a beautiful day. However, at the moment it is just above 0°C and ripe is still on the grass. You wouldn't say it, but I am in Mexico.

No sun, sea, beach

Thinking about Mexico many people directly think of white beaches, clear blue waters and cocktails. The inland has none of this, but I'm not complaining. Here they drink Mezcal and the last few days I have enjoyed the landscapes we drove through. The route takes us through the mountains, past fields full of cacti and lets us stop in small villages for a traditional lunch; mostly something based on tortilla. I enjoy everything I see and the days can't last me long enough. 

To Angangueo for the migration of the Monarch butterfly

Yesterday we drove through colonial Mexico. We drove from San Miguel de Allende via Morelia to Angangueo. Angangueo is a small mountain village at an altitude of 2.500 meters. The number of inhabitants is limited to about 9,000 and on the central square there are two restaurants. The inhabitants are super hospitable and helpful and I have eaten the best guacamole ever, but there is not much else to do here. We didn't just end up here, we came here for a reason: the migration of the Monarch butterfly. 

Every year millions of Monarch butterflies fly from Canada to the mountains in the Mexican state of Michoacán de Ocampo to hibernate. The butterflies nest with large numbers in the trees and fly around during the day. This natural phenomenon seems to be very unique and special. After having seen some videos I wanted to see it with my own eyes.

A magical fairy tale forest full of Monarch butterflies

Here we are. Early in the morning ready to visit the butterflies. There are three different places open to visitors. The rest of the area is forbidden access and belongs only to the butterflies. We drive to El Rosario which is at an altitude of 3,000 meters. This reserve is managed by the inhabitants of the village and it is mandatory to visit the park with a guide. Not bad, because they know everything about the area, the butterflies and the migration. Moreover, this way you support the local population. With butterflies in my belly we arrive at the park. Curious to see what we will find and the preserved hope to see at least a few butterflies. Nothing to worry about, it soon turns out.

Slowly the sun appears between the trees and the butterflies wake up. From the trees hang clusters of butterflies that have united to make it through the night. As soon as the sun shines on the wings, the butterflies move and fly away. The green forest turns into a magical fairy tale forest. The butterflies, literally millions of them, flutter gracefully around us. I look up and the clear blue sky is filled with orange butterflies flying peacefully around and I look out of my eyes. A smile appears around my mouth and I enjoy this special moment.

Orange butterflies everywhere

It's still quiet and our guide takes us further into the forest. More and more butterflies wake up, they fly up and I look until the sky is completely filled. The contrast of the colours and the sound of the wings is impressive. I walk between the butterflies, one butterfly rests on my shoe and another one rests on my arm. My guide tells me that he grew up here and that this is an annual phenomenon for him. Does he ever get tired of this? He says he doesn't and I can't imagine it either.

Monarchvlinder Migratie in Mexico
  • Monarchvlinder Migratie in Mexico

Mexico; much more than just sun, sea and beach

This natural phenomenon is truly magical to experience. Never before have I seen so many butterflies together and the sunbeams shining through the trees make the view even more special. Unfortunately this place, like many other places in Mexico, stands in the shadow of the stereotypical image one has of Mexico; sun, sea and beach. However, Mexico has much more, it is great. The landscapes are diverse and breathtaking, the people are friendly and hospitable and the culture is diverse, swinging and shaped by a long and impressive history.

Travel through Mexico?

Would you like to make a trip through Mexico yourself and are you curious about the possibilities? Then take a look at the travel itineraries that we have put together for inspiration. You can book these trips directly, but we are also happy to put together a personal programme based on your wishes and ideas.

Do you have a question? Feel free to contact us. Call +31 73 610 62 04 or send an email to info@sapapanatravel.nl. We are happy to help.

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