Friday, February 25, 2011

Monarch Butterflies in Michoacan

About two weeks ago we had a long weekend for Constitution Day and decided to take a day trip to see the famed monarch butterflies at the Reserva de la Biosfera de la Mariposa Monarca in Michoacan. While we were hoping to split it over two days, timing would just not allow it and we were afraid that we might have to wait until next year if we didn't go, because the monarchs would be migrating back up north for the summer. So we left early early and got on the road. Mostly it was fine, until the last hour when we were climbing up crappy roads. (sidenote: It's always surprising how little infrastructure is attended to around these national attractions.)

The butterflies generally hang out in this area from November to March when it's too chilly to stay in North America (Great Lakes area). Despite the fact that it was a beautiful day all around, on the hillside, in the forest it was cold! Cold enough that the butterflies were not really in flying mode, but more like huddling on trees mode. It was a good few kilometers hike up and down and overall a great excursion. We ended our visit with a hot blackberry drink, thick like sahleb and very tasty. But enough chatting, here are the pictures:

The forest:


Those clumps are actually butterflies:


Take a closer look:




And even closer:













To Visit:

Driving from Guadalajara- take highway Mex 15 until Maravatio, where you turn south towards Angangueo (for 4*4 vehicles) or Ocampo (for little cars). Door to door, it's about 5 hours, and the cuota comes out to appx. 500 MXN each way.
Alternatively, from Morelia it is appx. 2 hours.

The Park- From Nov. to March, 9am to 6pm. The best time to come is in on a sunny day in Feb/March when the butterflies are more likely to be moving around. Try to come mid-day/early afternoon. It's about 2-4 km uphill hike; horses also available. Entrance is 40 MXN/adult.

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